Monday, May 31, 2021

171 Million Cases and Malaysia Returns to Nationwide Lockdown

It’s now 171 million cases and Covid-19 is still very much a threat throughout the world. 

Already, another country, Uzbekistan has joined the C100K grouping, making it country #93. And these countries combined to contribute 98.6% and 98.7% of infections and fatalities respectively worldwide.

In Malaysia, the situation is getting from bad to worse. 

On Saturday, new Covid-19 cases soared to 9,020 new infections, setting yet another unwanted daily record – even as there was a respite yesterday and today with 6,999 and 6,824 cases respectively. No matter, the numbers are troublingly high. 

Anyway, the government have already announced a “total lockdown” of the country from tomorrow until 14, during which time all non-essential activities will be prohibited.

According to the authorities, the essential services sectors allowed to open during MCO 3.0 include health services, water and energy utilities, transport – including ports and airports, communications – including news media and broadcasts, banks, information technology, construction and critical repairs, forestry and wildlife enforcement, aerospace, electrical and electronics, printing, and cleaning as well as the food and beverage industry. 

Wow, that’s a long list!

I'm appalled because the rising trend of workplace clusters is alarming. If you don't know, most of the said clusters – almost 50% – are from the manufacturing sector. And yet, much of manufacturing – 18 sectors in total – will be allowed to continue operating but with reduced worker capacity. 

Between April 01 and May 27, 287 workplace clusters were detected, involving 17,087 cases. Of these, 16,785 cases, involving 233 workplace clusters, are still active. Clearly, many employers are not SOP compliant. 

Anyway, let’s see how the "total lockdown" pans out. Oftentimes, we don’t actually do what we say we want to do. U-turns are our thing, if you must know.

And I hope the government will wise up and use the 14-day lockdown to do mass testing-and-tracing, speed up vaccinations and overall, re-strategize. Otherwise, Covid numbers will surely swell and bloat further.

Cicadas Caught on Camera

Cicadas competing in the Olympics? Or jamming in a band? How about a cicada getting vaccinated? 

The appearance of the insects known as Brood X, or Brood 10, in the United States after a 17-year hiatus has inspired Virginia portrait photographer Oxana Ware (left) to create small-scale art installations, placing the ubiquitous bugs in novel settings. 

It’s a light-hearted way to memorialize these bugs.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Hari Gawai and Tadau Kaamatan

To all Sarawakians and Sabahans:

Rosmah Mansor (below left), who is facing corruption charges linked to the Sarawak schools solar energy project, is claiming that former attorney-general Tommy Thomas (center) and retired Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram (right) conspired to oppress her, similar to what was done to her husband, ex-prime minister Najib Razak. 

She’s a jokester, alright! She's clutching at straws because the way I see it, it'll be the end of the road for her very soon. And her hubby too.

BTW, Rosmah’s defense is scheduled to be heard for nine days between June and July.

Mass Graves of Indigenous Children in Canada

It would appear that Canada is no different from the United States in having a strong tradition to want to promote white supremacy. 

A mass grave containing the remains of 215 children has been found in that country at a former residential school set up to assimilate Indigenous people. The youngsters were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia that closed in 1978. 

The discovery was announced on Thursday by the chief of the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation. The remains were found with the help of a ground-penetrating radar during a survey of the school. 

"To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths", Rosanne Casimir (left), the chief of the community in British Columbia's city of Kamloops said. "Some were as young as three years old". 

For more than 100 years, Canadian authorities forcibly separated thousands of Indigenous children from their families and made them attend residential schools, which aimed to sever Indigenous family and cultural ties and assimilate the children into white Canadian society. 

The schools, which were run by churches from the 1870s until 1996, were rife with physical, mental and sexual abuse, neglect, and other forms of violence, and they created a cycle of intergenerational trauma for Indigenous people across Canada. 

Founded in 1890 and run by the Catholic Church, the Kamloops Indian Residential School eventually became the largest school in Canada’s residential school system, counting 500 children at its enrollment peak in the early 1950s. 

“The residential schools were opened with the sole purpose of removing the Indian from the child”, Danielle Morrison (left), an Anishinaabe lawyer said. “It was to assimilate Indigenous people in Canada and it’s essentially, in the words of one of the superintendents at the time, to get rid of the ‘Indian problem’”. 

In 2015, a national truth and reconciliation commission said the Canadian government had committed “cultural genocide” by forcing more than 150,000 Indigenous children to attend residential schools. 

The Canadian government formally apologized for the residential school system in 2008, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right) said on Friday that the discovery of the children’s bodies “is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history”. 

But wait, don't think that this is all in the past! 

It has been pointed out that while the residential schools may have been closed, Indigenous children continue to be taken away from their families in disproportionate numbers across Canada. 

According to census data, more than 52 percent of children in foster care in 2016 were Indigenous, while Indigenous children made up only 7.7 percent of the country’s total population. 

“This is not a historical event”, said Karen Joseph (right), CEO of the Reconciliation Canada charity on Saturday. “This continues today – the loss of our children and the loss of our people for no other reason than the color of our skin”. 

Canada is another “white” country that persists in imposing its “white values" on non-white societies – shame on Canada!

Flesh-toned Stamps Promote Racism

Spain’s postal service have been blamed for promoting racism with the issuance of flesh-toned stamps.  

On Tuesday, Correos España unveiled the set of four “equality stamps”: a pale €1.60 one, a slightly darker €1.50 one, a brown €0.80 one, and a black €0.70 one. 

The postal service said the initiative, which was developed in collaboration with the national SOS Racismo federation, had been launched on the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd to help highlight enduring inequalities. 

Instead, it has been called out as a damaging and counterproductive approach to equality because the stamp with the lightest skin color is worth more than twice as much as the darkest one.

“At Correos, we believe a person’s value shouldn’t have any color, which is why we’re launching Equality Stamps, a collection of stamps in which the darker the color of the stamp, the less its value”, the service had explained in a tweet. “That’s a reflection of a painful and unfair reality that shouldn’t exist”. 

I read this statement twice, no, thrice – and I still don’t get it! 

In any case, the project was met with scathing criticisms online. 

Antumi Toasijé (left), a historian who chairs the government’s Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination, said: “A campaign that infuriates those it is trying to defend is always a mistake”, and called on Correos to withdraw the stamps. 

“When it comes to the fight against racism, irony, double meanings and ‘This needs to be talked about even if it’s wrong’ don’t help”, he said in a tweet. “We can all make mistakes, but it’s time to fix this one”. 

The Madrid branch of SOS Racismo too lamented the initiative. “[This] unfortunate campaign shows how necessary it is to create a better anti-racist understanding in Spain”, they emphasized. “Racism isn’t just about skin color; it’s a systemic and historical issue that was built to privilege some sectors of society and demean others”. 

Moha Gerehou (right), a Spanish author and a former president of SOS Racismo Madrid, told the Associated Press the stamps were “an insurmountable contradiction”, adding: “At the end of the day, an anti-racism campaign has put out a clearly racist message”.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Ben Chan and Pop-culture

My blog on a pretty regular basis features art works – and todate, there are more than 150 posts related to Art. 

There are many talents out there with a myriad of styles and topics they embrace. 

This particular post introduces Taiwan China's Ben Chen – and just like my last post published May 19, his pop-culture illustrations shared below are brilliantly dark and twisted, accompanied with generous touches of humor and a decent topping of irony. 

What I like about his works is that they're full of adventure and each one of them tells a story.

170 Million Cases and Sabah's Desa Ranggu Cluster

Some countries are seeing Covid beating a quiet retreat – but some others are seeing a stubborn escalation of infections and fatalities. All in all, the world is witnessing 170 million cases. 

Distressingly, Malaysia belongs to the latter group. Covid-19 cases in the country have shot up to 7,857 two days ago. And yesterday, we smashed that record – we breached the 8,000 mark. 8,290 cases to be exact. 

We have really outdone ourselves for the fourth day in a row. 

It’s an accomplishment we shouldn’t be gloating about – but it's a fact and we cannot deny it. And I won't be surprised if the numbers keep going up higher. I don't think we have reached the max. 

Well done, PN government! 

#KerajaanBodoh #KerajaanGagal 

And in case, there are those who believe that the Covid jabs will keep them safe, the Sabah state local government and housing minister Masidi Manjun (left) had identified a 53-year-old woman who received both Covid-19 vaccination doses in March, as the index case for a new cluster in Tawau – labelled the Desa Ranggu cluster. 

She reportedly showed symptoms on May 15, and was confirmed positive at the Tawau government health clinic five days later based on symptomatic screening.

My take on Covid avoidance is simple and straightforward. Make our bodies' defenses to be as strong as possible in order to strengthen our immunity. Stay healthy, stay safe.

Friday, May 28, 2021

The Power of Words and Update 11

When we speak, we use words. 

And in public speaking, it is important to pick the right words in order to get your point across clearly. 

Indeed, there is incredible potential in the words we use to communicate, to convey our ideas and to connect with the people we are speaking to. That’s because words have power. 

As author Yehuda Berg states, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity… Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble”.

I agree. I put it this way:

The words we choose and how we choose to use them can build others up or bring them down; they can cement a community or cleave it apart. 

When we acknowledge the power our words have, we will surely see the impact they can have to those who are listening. 

Words. Are. Powerful.

Today’s WSD 2021 Top 25 videos as at 04:16 PM Malaysian time: 

  • Sanjanaa Kanthan – 2319 views (2266) 
  • Velleny Jivel Jinau – 1635 views (1556) 
  • Simon Gibson – 1224 views (1205) 
  • Yosshveina Jega Theesan – 1198 views (1192) 
  • Tashvein Jega Theesan – 1158 views (1144) 
  • Amirah – 1146 views (1129) 
  • Karyn Yadlyn – 1036 views (968) 
  • Christal Wong – 1035 views (966) 
  • Vellvie Jivel Jinau – 922 views (839) 
  • Santhy Dewi Pillai – 609 views (530)
  • Sumithra Devi – 595 views (557) 
  • Annie Tsen – 526 views (526) 
  • Joyce Tan – 519 views (476) 
  • Ooi Mei Ling – 482 views (465) 
  • Robyn Grace Leo – 455 views (432) 
  • Janany Ganabatirau – 432 views (429) 
  • Chong Kai Zhen – 410 views (373)
  • Ahmed Tarek Fawzy – 385 views (382) 
  • Vashnavy Ragupathy – 376 (348)
  • Ilham Firdaus – 363 views (363) 
  • Mathew Varughese – 362 views (361) 
  • Samuel Sham – 341 views (339) 
  • Karan Z’vyr – 340 views (330) 
  • Thanuja Kunasekaran – 333 (252) 
  • Haari Shamundiswary – 284 ( – ) 

[Note: The figures in parentheses indicate the number of views from the last report published May 21, 2021]. 

A little reminder: If you’ve not subscribed to the said channel, please do so because you’ll be showing your support for CV+ and World Speech Day! 

#unexpectedvoices #worldspeechday #worldspeechday2021kualalumpur #worldspeechday2021johorbahru

Please Don't Call 911

As the plague of 17-year cicadas descends across the eastern and even midwestern United States, officials in Union County, Georgia on Sunday asked that residents to please stop calling 911 over the bugs' infernal noise. 

From a Union County Fire/Rescue & EMA post on Facebook: 

“Union County E911 is receiving multiple 911 calls for 'alarms' in the neighborhood. More than likely these 'alarms' are not alarms at all but a bug, Brood X. This brood of cicadas emerges every 17 years and is endemic in most of the eastern United States. 

They also have a range of different sounds they can produce, making them some of the loudest of all insects. It is often difficult to pinpoint where the sound is coming from and can sound like a vehicle or home alarm system... So, if you think you hear an alarm ensure that it is an alarm and determine the location before contacting authorities”. 

I suspect the cacophony of cicada choruses must be annoyingly aggravating. I also reckon noise pollution in the USA is at its loudest right now, given the billions of Brood X bugs coming out of the ground after seventeen years!

From the UK, I read that the country's worst-ever sporting disaster will not see anybody being held accountable for the tragedy.

[Note: A human crush due to over-crowding occurred in a fenced-in enclosure at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield in northern England, at an FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989. Ninety-six fans were killed and 766 injured].

That’s the verdict effectively handed down on Wednesday, with a judge acquitting three people accused of perverting the course of justice through altering documents in the aftermath of the stadium calamity. 

LFC responded in no uncertain terms to the news with a statement which read: “It is with huge disappointment that Liverpool Football Club notes the latest developments in the judicial process relating to the Hillsborough disaster”. 

The club say campaigners and families have been “let down” and “continuously failed”, pointing out that “96 people were unlawfully killed and yet no individual or group has been deemed legally culpable for their deaths”. 

There will be no appeal to the verdict. This is, indeed, a sorry state of affairs. 

Where is justice for the 96?

Thursday, May 27, 2021

169 Million Cases and Malaysia Breaks Covid Records

The Covid surge is still very much buoyant. Its global tally is 169 million cases and 3.5 million deaths. 

And yesterday, Malaysia reported another record breaking number of Covid-19 infections – a whopping 7,478 cases. That’s not the only record, by the way. The country has the highest number of deaths, at 63 and the highest number of Covid patients being treated in ICUs, at 756. Unsurprisingly, there’s the familiar litany of excuses – but it really boils down to just one reason: the government’s ineptitude. 

These self-explanatory charts should alarm and worry every Malaysian: 

At the same time, on May 23, Malaysia recorded a positive rate at 6.57 percent, exceeding the World Health Organization’s maximum benchmark 5 percent rate, indicating undetected coronavirus infections in the community. 

In fact, on May 11, MOH Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (right) had announced that 80 percent of Covid-19 cases were unlinked, whose source of transmission was unknown. 

The sporadic cases indicate that the source of the infection of a case is unknown and local health authorities were not able to track people who had spread the infection to the case, or to isolate them before they go around infecting others. 

Undeniably, this tells us that we don’t do comprehensive testing and tracing. We have idiots in the government, that's why. 

#KerajaanBodoh #KerajaanGagal 

BTW, a ceasefire is in effect in Palestine’s Gaza.

But you can be sure the fragile “peace” that has been secured is a mere pause. It can never be lasting unless the world takes action against Israeli aggression and blocks unconditional US support of the belligerent country. 

Did you know that Israeli forces killed at least 66 Palestinian children during this month of May? WHERE IS JUSTICE?