Sunday, October 24, 2021

Questions on Malaysia's Covid Deaths

The Malaysian Health Minister is keeping mum over Covid fatalities. 

Khairy Jamaluddin (left) has been asked to clarify the difference in the number of Covid-19 deaths reported by the CovidNow and Worldometer websites. 

Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang today pointed out that there is a serious discrepancy in fatality numbers between the official Malaysia government website for data and insights on Covid-19 and the reference website that provides counters and real-time statistics on Covid. 

“I am confused. CovidNow website says there were 42 Covid-19 deaths including 10 Brought-in-Dead (BID) yesterday bringing the cumulative total of Covid-19 deaths to 28,354 deaths but the Worldometer website says 222 Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia yesterday, bringing the cumulative total to 28,534 deaths”, Lim asserted. “If CovidNow website is right, then we have the lowest number of daily reported deaths in more than five months as on May 13, we recorded 38 Covid-19 deaths”. 

Already, Lim (right) has been kept waiting for Khairy’s long-delayed explanation about Malaysia’s high Covid-19 fatality rates, the high BID rates and why Malaysia is the worst-performing nation in ASEAN in terms of Covid-19 deaths. 

According to the DAP lawmaker, Malaysia is above the Asian and world averages for both the categories of ‘total Covid-19 deaths per million population’ and ‘daily Covid-19 deaths per million population’. 

“The Asian average for ‘total Covid-19 deaths per million population’ for Oct 21 is 247.78 and the ‘daily Covid-19 death per million population’ is 22.58, while the world average for ‘total Covid-19 deaths per million population’ is 626.01 and the ‘daily death per million population’ is 58.05. 

Malaysia is above both the Asian and the world averages, as Malaysia’s ‘total Covid-19 deaths per million population’ is 861.42 and ‘daily Covid-19 death per million population’ is 189.47”, he pointed out. 

Khairy is just playing dumb – he should promptly address the cold sober questions about the accuracy of our Covid numbers.

In the Scottish Premiership yesterday, Celtic overcame a stubborn St Johnstone to earn a 2-0 win and three important points. 

In the thirty-fourth minute, Giorgios Giakoumakis bagged his first goal for the club on his first start. And in the eightieth minute, Josip Juranovic who scored from the spot, made it two. 

Celtic stay fourth and are now within three points behind leaders Hearts and Rangers.

Blue is Out of Stock

On October 10, I had blogged about food and fuel shortages in the UK.

Now the US seems to be running out of everything. Supply-chain bottlenecks caused record shortages of everyday products from household goods and electronics to cars, food, and raw materials. 

For shoppers, empty shelves can be jarring, spurring panic-buying sprees. It's often the first sign people see that something may be wrong with the global supply chain. But, shortages are typically indicators of issues that have plagued the industry for months. 

I suppose you can say it all started because of Covid. 

In 2020, coronavirus shutdowns all over the world wreaked havoc on the global supply chain. Since, lingering virus-mitigation measures continue to limit efforts to return the supply chain to pre-pandemic levels. 

Also, industry players limited worker levels due to fears of the further spread of Covid-19 within their workplaces. In China, port terminals temporarily shuttered as a result of the country's Covid zero-tolerance policy, spawning backlogs at some of the world's largest ports. 

The world economy is out of sync because parts of it were forced to go offline when the pandemic started and getting all the industry players back in line at the same time is extremely challenging. And as countries open up again, demand for products is soaring. 

"All parts of the supply chain, most of which are built on 'lean' principles (no slack, little redundancy, from truck drivers to inventory in warehouses), were not prepared for this increase", Tony Pelli (right), Practice Director of Security & Resilience at BSI, told Insider. "While consumer demand can increase in a matter of months, it takes more time to increase port capacity, build warehouses, hire employees, etc, to meet that demand".

And the color blue has become a victim too. For some odd reason, it made the news.  

Dutch paint maker Akzo Nobel NV are running out of ingredients to make some shades of blue – the latest fallout from the global supply-chain disruptions that are spreading across manufacturers. 

“There is one basic color tint that is extremely difficult to get”, Chief Executive Officer Thierry Vanlancker said on Wednesday after publishing third-quarter earnings. “It’s creating complete chaos”! 

It didn’t appear out of the blue (no pun intended) but paint makers, which typically rely on hundreds of additives and chemicals, have warned for months of higher costs and logistical issues. 

And while demand is coming back to 2019 levels as some countries appear to be getting past the worst of the pandemic, the installed capacity for making raw materials hasn’t changed, Vanlancker said. 

I daresay this issue of supply and demand imbalance is happening in many countries – and it’s going to last for quite a while. Already, it is claimed that supply chain breaks will continue well into 2023. We will just have to live with it. 

Blue, blue, my world is blue!

Saturday, October 23, 2021

US Provokes China on Taiwan

China has been really patient and unbelievably tolerant with the US even as the latter continues to provoke the former on the matter of Taiwan. 

The US appears to be abandoning its long-held policy known as "strategic ambiguity", where Washington helps prop up the rebel province's defences but does not explicitly promise to come to its assistance. The policy is designed to deter a supposed Chinese invasion and also discourage Taiwan from formally declaring independence, something Beijing regards as a red line. 

And the Joe Biden administration, through both word and deed, persist to demonstrate that Taipei should have no worries about Washington's commitment to the island.

I must say that I am not surprised with Biden’s declarations of commitment to Taiwan. He must show bravado. Likewise, he’ll want to follow the US presidential tradition of immersing himself in foreign military adventures as a way to feed their ravenous military-industrial complex and to deflect from domestic issues plaguing the country. 

In fact, all recent US presidents have either started a new war or been involved in escalating or starting a new military operation on foreign soil. Since 1945, the United States has had an aggressive foreign policy, with its military getting engaged all around the world. 

In case you doubt me, here’s a list of their most prominent military interventions overseas: 

  • John F Kennedy’s botched Bay of Pigs invasion on the south coast of Cuba in April 1961. 
  • Lyndon Johnson launched a three-year campaign of sustained bombing of targets in North Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Operation Rolling Thunder in March 1965. The same month, US Marines landed on beaches near Da Nang, South Vietnam as the first American combat troops to enter Vietnam. 
  • Richard Nixon escalated the war into Laos and Cambodia – and for your info, he stalled the Vietnam peace talks – he had needed the war to continue, since he was running on a platform that opposed(!) the war – before finally settling for a peace agreement in January 1973 that was within grasp back in 1968. 
  • Ronald Reagan deployed US Marines to Beirut during the Lebanese civil war, the invasion of Grenada in October 1983 and the bombing of Tripoli in Libya. 
  • Under George HW Bush, the US invaded Panama codenamed Operation Just Cause – from mid-December 1989 to late January 1990 – in an attempt to overthrow Manuel Noriega. 
  • During Bill Clinton’s presidency, under “Operation Uphold Democracy”, US troops were dispatched to Haiti in September 1994 to unseat a military junta. 
  • George W Bush launched Operation Enduring Freedom, an offensive in Afghanistan in October 2001 and he initiated the war on Iraq with the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. 
  • With Barack Obama, the United States and its lackeys conducted months-long air strikes in Libya, Iraq and Syria, besides increasing the deployment of US troops to Afghanistan – although he would ultimately drop the troop level to about 8,400 by the end of his term. 
  • Donald Trump may be pre-occupied with his own domestic missteps but he still managed to escalate military ops in Syria and he presided over the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani via a drone strike. 

Joe Biden too wants to be “one of the boys” and I betcha, he’s no different. He’s itching for a war and China is in his sights.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Speech is Power!

Indeed, children should be encouraged to speak. Freely. Without fear. 

And when they speak, we shall listen. There’s much to learn from them. 

At WSD 2021 World Children’s Day, we provide them an opportunity to speak. One special day dedicated to them. November 20.

Truly, speech is power!

Today, we’ve secured 45 registrations todate. Let’s go for 60!

#unexpectedvoices #worldspeechday #sabahbolehbah

Much Ado About Chips

I stumbled upon this weird group on Facebook! These are Wetherspoon's customers who target the chips that come with their chow! 

Yes, you heard me correctly. For those not familiar with the UK, Wetherspoon, founded in 1979 is a national chain across the whole of the UK & Ireland, with award-winning pubs and hotels. 

And you should also know that Wetherspoon has been named ‘Pub Brand of the Year’ in the National Pub & Bar Awards for 2021. As this award is based directly on consumers’ feedback, it is supposed to show how valued the business is by pub-goers all around the UK. 

But alas, not everything is as rosy as you think. 

It seems that one major gripe is, as I have already hinted above, is their serving of chips! There's nothing worse than your long-awaited meal arriving, only for a measly portion of chips to be served alongside your main. 

Previously, one man was mocked after demanding a friend cover part of his bill after eating three of his chips. 

Even Gordon Ramsay was criticized over the portion of chips in his £18.50 fish and chips meal. 

For sure, it's a contentious issue – and thousands of Wetherspoon's customers have banded together in a Facebook group – where they actually count the number of chips per portion. 

Over 37,000 customers have joined this Facebook group called 'Wetherspoons Paltry Chip Count' to share their woes. It's a single-issue group with members required to share a photo of their meal alongside the number of chips they were served.

Diners have flocked to mock the pub chain for a vast discrepancy between the number of chips they apparently get at different boozers. 

One disgruntled customer found just 10 fries with their dish. But another found a whopping 41 chips on their plate when it arrived. 

Yet another vexed customer visited the Master Mariner in Wallasey, Merseyside and got just 10 with his burger. He said: "Finally now I have a place to share my pain"! 

Meanwhile, one fumed after being served just 14 chips at the Jolly Tars in Cleveleys, Lancashire. He has vowed never to return to 'Spoons, writing: "Been waiting almost seven years for this group. December 22, 2014, I remember it well. Fourteen chips. Haven't been to a Wetherspoons since. Probably best I don't talk about the ham and cheese panini". 

And one woman frequented The Chevalier Inn, in Plymouth, Devon, where she was unhappy with the size of the fries rather than the quantity. She said: "Twenty five of the smallest chips I've ever seen". 

One visionary saw beyond the appearance of his dish to applaud the 41 chips he got including one huge one. "Looks like baby s***e but that's besides the point", he said. "Forty-one chips here including that monster which is worth about five itself".

Meanwhile, one dedicated customer took a tape measure to The Barum Top Inn, in Halifax, West Yorkshire. "Twenty-one chips, average chip length was 2.75 inch overall", he boasted. "Good effort". 

Another went one step further and brought weighing scales to the Sir Henry Tate Chorley, Lancashire: “Twenty-six chips – fairly average – at a total weight of 189g, approximately 7.27g per chip”. 

But it appears some upset patrons might be wrongly judging the portion of chips, according to an employee. They wrote on Twitter that workers are required to serve the chips according to weight – and they are checked if they're serving the right amount. 

They wrote: "They're counting the chips not knowing Wetherspoon measures chips by weight (180g) and yes you get spot tested on your chip weight"

And then added: "Before you get signed off you fully have to scoop a portion of chips and it be within a certain range otherwise you fail".

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Man of Steel is A Man of Tomorrow

I’m not a fan of Superman – but no matter. He’s becoming a Man of Tomorrow. 

Over the weekend, DC Comics held their second annual FanDome event, chock-full of announcements and teaser trailers and all that good hype stuff. 

During Saturday's event, Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Jim Lee announced that Superman would be getting a new mission statement "to better reflect the storylines that we are telling across DC and to honor Superman's incredible legacy of over 80 years of building a better world". 

In other words, he will no longer be fighting for the American way – but for a better tomorrow instead. Yay-y-y!

This idea of "truth, justice, and the American way", if you didn’t know, is not intrinsic to the character as originally created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938. While truth and justice have always been central to the character, "the American Way" was only added during the popular Adventures of Superman serial that aired during World War II. By the time the Super Friends cartoon launched in the 70s, the achingly pandering nationalism was replaced by "truth, justice, and peace for all mankind". 

Whether you have an affinity for America or not, the Man of Steel will now fight for "Truth, Justice and A Better Tomorrow" – and to me, it fits better with the character anyway. 

Besides, dropping the “American Way” makes sense, given the increasingly global markets that DC is operating within. 

Chinese war epic ‘The Battle at Lake Changjin’ surpassed the 5 billion yuan ($782 million) mark at the China box office on Tuesday – its twentieth day of screening. 

This makes it the second highest-earning film of 2021 at the global box-office, according to Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan. 

In fact, the top two movies worldwide for this year both belong to Chinese hits that cater almost exclusively to Chinese audiences, with ‘The Battle at Lake Changin’ in second place and ‘Hi, Mom’ in first place with a whopping $821 million. 

In the meantime, Wednesday's grosses for ‘No Time To Die’ amounted to a worldwide tally of $474 million – and it is already on its way to cross the $500 million milestone over the weekend.

99.9% of Scientists Agree Humans Cause Climate Emergency

The scientific consensus that humans are altering the climate has passed 99.9%, according to research that strengthens the case for global action at the COP26 summit (October 31–November 12, 2021) in Glasgow, Scotland. 

The degree of scientific certainty about the impact of greenhouse gases is now similar to the level of agreement on evolution and plate tectonics, the researchers say, based on their study. This means there is practically no doubt among experts that burning fossil fuels, such as oil, gas, coal, peat and trees, is heating the planet and causing more extreme weather. 

A previous survey in 2013 showed 97% of studies published between 1991 and 2012 supported the idea that human activities are altering Earth’s climate. This has been updated and expanded by the study by Cornell University that shows the tiny minority of sceptical voices has diminished to almost nothing as evidence mounts of the link between fossil-fuel burning and climate disruption. 

The latest survey of peer-reviewed literature published from 2012 to November 2020 was conducted in two stages. First, the researchers examined a random sample of 3,000 studies, in which they found only found four papers that were sceptical that the climate crisis was caused by humans. Second, they searched the full database of 88,125 studies for keywords linked to climate scepticism such as “natural cycles” and “cosmic rays”, which yielded 28 papers, all published in minor journals. 

The authors said their study “Greater than 99% consensus on human caused climate change in the peer-reviewed scientific literature”, published on Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, Volume 16, Number 11, showed scepticism among experts is now vanishingly small.

“It is really case closed. There is nobody of significance in the scientific community who doubts human-caused climate change”, said lead author, Mark Lynas (right), a visiting fellow at Cornell University. 

This echoed the view expressed in August by the world’s leading scientific body, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said: “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land”. 

It appears that the general public does not yet understand how certain experts are, nor is it reflected in political debate. This is certainly very true in the US, where fossil fuel companies have funded a disinformation campaign that falsely suggests the science is not yet settled, similar to the campaign by tobacco industries to cast doubt on the link between smoking and cancer. 

The paper cites a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center that found only 27% of US adults believed that “almost all” scientists agreed the climate emergency was caused by human activity. 

Nothing that is surprising really because Americans don’t seem able to separate the truth from the lie. I guess they are easily deceived. Just consider the bullshit they readily swallowed about Covid and China – and you know they are dupable. No wonder their politicians can manipulate them at every given opportunity.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

What’s in a Name?

The award-winning Malaysian-made Timah whiskey has turned sour for some as criticisms have been bombarded at the brand over its choice of name. 

Although its makers have issued an explanation behind the name, it did not stop Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Idris Ahmad from lodging a complaint with the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and the Home Ministry. 

Meanwhile, PAS Syura Ulamak Council member Mahfodz Mohamad told The Vibes that alcohol companies should not use product names that could confuse Muslims, adding that “Timah” sounds confusing. 

This is in light of the government being unable to ban alcohol consumption because Malaysia has non-Muslims, he said. “But they shouldn’t use Muslim names in their products that will confuse the Muslim community. I would prefer if names used are not confusing, because it will appear that the product is for Muslims and it’s confusing for the community”. 

I didn’t expect PAS people's command of the Malay language is so pitiful. I also didn't know the Muslim community is so easily at sixes and sevens. 

Timah’s makers have come out to say that the name is the Malay word for 'tin', which harkens to the tin mining era during British colonial times. 

“The man on our bottle, Captain Speedy (British explorer Tristram Charles Sawyer Speedy), was one of the men who introduced whiskey culture back then. We do not intend for our name to stir controversy. Any interpretation of our name unrelating to Malaysian tin mining is false. Timah is meant to be enjoyed by non-Muslims above the legal alcohol purchasing age”. 

Timah detractors have taken to social media, alleging the name is a traditional Muslim one – Fatimah. 

OMG, how stupid can these people be!??! 

Lawyers for Justice movement coordinator S Raveentharan said that this should not even be an issue, adding that the critics have nothing better to do! 

Women’s rights activist Ivy Josiah also lambasted Timah detractors, saying: “This is a perfect example of making a mountain out of a molehill. In fact, I feel silly having to respond to this manufactured offence. The brand has clarified that ‘timah’ means ‘tin’. 

The detractors should not overthink this. One can defend women’s honour by taking on real issues that women face everyday, such as domestic violence”, she told The Vibes. 

Hear, hear!

A Western-biased World

A very illustrative look at today’s world by Nury Vittachi – you've got it, it’s a Western-biased world where the West insists being in the driver's seat:

I cannot agree more.

Methinks, the rest of the world should put them in their place.

Yesterday, Celtic kept their Europa League knockout hopes alive with a deserved 2-0 win over Hungarian champions Ferencvárosi TC. 

Kyogo Furuhashi slid home the opener from a sublime Jota pass in the fifty-seventh minute and then, in the eighty-first minute, David Turnbull forced the other side into an own goal for Celtic's second goal. 

Meanwhile, in Madrid, Spain, Liverpool made it three wins out of three in the group stage of the Champions League by beating Atletico Madrid in a game full of twists and turns. 

It was Mohamed Salah who gave his side the lead when his low finish at the end of a weaving run found the net off the toe of James Milner in the eighth minute before Naby Keita's brilliant volley five minutes later doubled the Reds' advantage. 

Soon after, the Spanish champions upped the tempo and pushed numbers forward. And they wiped out the two-goal lead in the twentieth and thirty-fourth minute. 

In the end, Liverpool still managed a win when a penalty was awarded to them for a clumsy barge on Diogo Jota and Salah’s well-taken kick in the seventy-eighth minute, gave them a 3-2 victory. 

They now top Champions League Group B by an emphatic five points.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Anxious Animals

Anxiety can take a perfectly lovely, intelligent, capable person and turn him or her into a fearful mess. 

Dr. Jennifer Hartman, a clinical psychologist describes anxiety as a pushy, self-important, exaggerating, pain-in-the-patootie. 

And I'm sure animals can be just as anxious as humans are! I also know we can relate to the cartoons below that were published on Instagram.

The artist, named Amee Wilson, told Bored Panda: “I was stuck in lockdown in Australia and feeling pretty anxious (like the rest of the country). And so I started drawing how I was feeling but spoken by animals. It kinda made the feelings feel a bit less dark! And people just started responding really positively so I just kept making them. I think everyone is just feeling all the same things, but they're hard to talk about!” 

That is so true. At least for me anyway. 

War Epic 'The Battle at Lake Changjin' Crosses $750M at the China Box Office

‘The Battle at Lake Changjin’ rages on. The Chinese war epic earned $73 million over the weekend, taking its China box-office total to $768.8 million – a phenomenal sum unmatched by any Hollywood film released since the start of the Covid pandemic. 

Released in China on September 30, the blockbuster follows a group of Chinese soldiers – actually, Chinese People’s Volunteers – during the Korean War (1950-53) as they try to beat back US and allied forces from what is now China's border with North Korea, despite freezing conditions and staggering odds. 

Of course, Western media paints it as a propaganda feature film. But we all know it's a case of sour grapes.

Besides, I can name many US movies that can just as easily be labelled propaganda flicks too. Examples include ‘The Green Berets’ (1968), ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978), ‘Act of Valor’ (2012) and ‘Lone Survivor’ (2013) are some of them.

And who can forget ‘Black Hawk Down’ (2001), Ridley Scott's dramatisation of the Battle of Mogadishu? It’s a movie about US Army Rangers under siege in Mogadishu, Somalia in October 1993. 

Here, you get to see America’s romanticized view of war, its soldiers die in slow-motion, accompanied by mournful strings or piano music while Somalis just fly into the air, explode and disappear. 

And the sore point for us Malaysians – we didn’t even get a mention. In fact, we were written out altogether. 

It’s a movie that pits noble, civilising white heroes against faceless, savage black villains – and, ignoring the Malaysian and Pakistani soldiers who were also in the thick of the action to save American lives! Indeed, its interpretation of history is both one-sided and crude. 

Anyway, ‘The Battle at Lake Changjin’ is now China’s second-biggest movie of 2021, trailing only the Lunar New Year comedy hit ‘Hi, Mom’ ($821 million). In the all-time China box office charts, the war film now ranks third, in US dollar terms, behind ‘Wolf Warrior 2’ ($854 million) and ‘Hi, Mom’. 

Chinese ticket app Maoyan now forecast ‘The Battle at Lake Changjin’ to finish its run at second place in the record books with a total gross of $843 million. 

Furthermore, you should know that this Chinese war movie is from real history!

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Flavor Graveyard

We all know that Ben & Jerry's are well-known for their funky flavors, not to mention some that are simply outrageous. 

Many of these ice cream flavors have colorful names, e.g. ‘Fossil Fuel’, ‘Vermonty Python’, ‘Turtle Soup’, 'Bovinity Divinity’, ‘Chunky Monkey’, ‘Sofa So Good Together’, and ‘Schweddy Balls’. 

Anyway, not every flavor that they come up with stays on the shelves forever. Some are eventually discontinued. However, those fallen flavors don’t just become forgotten treats. 

The company commemorates them in a way normal for people – but significantly less common for food products. Ben & Jerry’s have an actual “Flavor Graveyard” for their “dearly de-pinted” ice creams. 

Seriously, they have an actual cemetery you can visit in Waterbury, Vermont in the US of A. The memorial site is located at Ben & Jerry’s first factory, which opened in 1985. 

It features granite headstones for retired ice cream flavors. Each grave lists the late dessert’s year of “birth” and “death”. They also include a funny little poem about the fallen foodstuff, which typically include information about the flavor combination and how it ended up six-feet under. 

The tongue-in-cheek graveyard offers diehard fans the opportunity to shed a tear or two in memoriam of their favourite scoops. 

[You can also find all of the terminated ice creams at the virtual Flavor Graveyard online. And that’s where you can find a miracle because Ben & Jerry’s let customers vote on what flavors should be resurrected].

The physical graveyard came to life in 1997 and initially contained just four flavours: 'Dastardly Mash', 'Economic Crunch', 'Ethan Almond' and 'Tuskegee Chunk'. Since then, dozens and dozens of “not-so-bestsellers” have made their way to the cemetery. 

In fact, in 2015, Ben & Jerry’s took it a step further by hosting an actual funeral at the graveyard for the US flavour, ‘What a Cluster’, attracting mourners from miles away for the memorial. 

Never let it be said that ice cream isn’t a passionate subject!

A New Collection of WSD 2021 WCD Posters

A new collection of posters for WSD 2021 World Children’s Day. 

#unexpectedvoices #worldspeechday #sabahbolehbah