new year resolutions for 2016

What’s top of your list of new year resolutions for 2016? Do more exercise? Eat better? Spend more time with your children? Find a fulfilling career? How about ticking all your boxes and simply be happy?

Sadly, you can’t simply “become” happy. Happiness is often an indirect consequence of our actions and the way we think. However, the good news is that making even the smallest adjustments can help us attain that elusive state we all aspire to...

1. Slow down

2. Be mindful

3. Follow the 60% rule

4. Nourish your body

5. Unplug

6. Declutter

7. Breathe

8. Redefine failure

9. Exercise

10. Read a poem aloud

The Guardian, Last modified on Tuesday 29 December 2015 04.05 GMT
New year, new you – how to be happy;
With so many external pressures can any of us be truly happy? As we welcome in a new year, Rachel Kelly suggests small changes to your life that can have a huge impact on your outlook
By Rachel Kelly, author of Walking on Sunshine: 52 Small Steps To Happiness (*)

How would you like 52 tips on how to be happier? No this isn't an offer to sign up to a dodgy website - it's a small book which you could pop into a bag and which will give you tips, tools and positive idea about how you can make your life happier, less complicated and more fulfilling. Open it at random, if that's what you feel like doing, or work your way through it reading one tip per week - they're helpfully divided into the four seasons - and savour just a couple of pages of elegant writing which will give you something to think about or something positive to do (or not do - if you see what I mean).

I empathised with Rachel Kelly immediately: she's overcome depression and like anyone who has been in that pit she knows that the road out is steep and it's all too easy to slither back down again. She knows that she needs strategies to help her through what Freud calls ordinary human unhappiness - the ups and downs of everyday life. She describes the book as 52 small sanity-saving tools, recognising that happiness is not a switch you can flick, but often a byproduct of the way we live our lives.


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Melissa Darlyne Chow

The popular Korean drama series, Oh My Venus, has caused many hearts to flutter, particularly because of its leading man, Seo Ji-sub.

For yours truly, however, it was more of the storyline on the rise and fall, and rise again, of its leading lady, Shin Min-ah.

The story revolves around Shin’s character, Kang Joo-eun, who is the most popular girl in school, with a pretty face and an enviable figure.

Fast forward more than a decade later, Kang is 33 and has gained a lot of weight. After she is ditched by her boyfriend of 15 years and told she has health issues, she hires Seo’s character, Kim Young-ho, a personal trainer, to push her to the limit so that she can lose weight.

When Kang seemed to be slacking on her workout routine, Kim chides her: “Is your body a disposable object? Are you only going to use it for a day, and throw it away? Wouldn’t it be nice to keep something you’ll use your whole life in peak condition?

This remark is relevant these days, especially when you see many overweight and obese people.

Being told that being overweight and obese will lead to high blood pressure, diabetes and a host of other health complications is nothing new. Time and again, we have been told that we need to change our eating habits and lifestyle to ensure good health.

The fact that one in three Malaysians is overweight and that Malaysia was identified as the most obese nation in the Asean region last year, while disturbing, does not come as a surprise.

Why so? The answer, for some people, is very simple: it is due to a lack of willpower to change. Once too often, I have seen eyes widen and jaws drop when I say 500m is not too much of a distance to walk.

“It is so far!”, some would say, opting to drive instead, and in turn, my eyes would widen with incredulity. And, mind you, those who pass such remarks tend to be young people.

At times, I see people eat heavy meals for supper and I would be at a loss for words. While there is nothing wrong with patronising nasi kandar outlets, just look at the number of diners, especially those having meals at odd hours when one should avoid having heavy meals then.

We can conveniently blame our jobs for our irregular and unhealthy eating habits, as well as the lack of exercise, and while there is a certain degree of truth to that, that does not mean we cannot make an effort to overcome them.

Admittedly, not everyone is able to work out, owing to factors such as age, poor condition of their bodies and illnesses. But, for the rest of us who are able-bodied, what is the excuse for not living a healthy lifestyle?

We would already be on the road to a healthy lifestyle if we make a conscious choice to change by reducing our food portions, eating healthy, exercising as regularly as we can, walking as much as we can, getting as much sleep as possible, and drinking lots of water, among other things. These are steps anyone can take, if they put their hearts and minds to it.

There really is no shortcut to losing weight and staying healthy. Crash diets do not work, but lifestyle changes do.

At the end of the day, no one wants to feel awful about themselves − how they look and how much they weigh. Instead, w e want to feel good knowing that we are taking good care of our bodies.

Our bodies are, after all, not disposable objects, but something that should be kept in peak condition for as long as we live.

New Straits Times, Updated: 29 December 2015 at 11:01 AM
Staying healthy not an impossible task;
Obese nation:
Lack of willpower to change our lifestyle the root of problem

By Melissa Darlyne Chow, an NST journalist
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/119491/staying-healthy-not-impossible-task

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Make love, not war

WITHOUT fail, Happy Xmas (War Is Over) has again brought with it that distinctive despairing sentimentality at this time of the year when you look back to look ahead.

This John Lennon song, which is more of an anti-war anthem rather than a typical Christmas tune, has profound lyrics to go with the melancholic melody.

It takes to the airwaves more often during this time every year, and it has gripped me so intensely this time around. Here’s a take:

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight

Yes, for “yellow and red ones”. Maybe that’s specifically for Malaysia, coming 35 years too early − the baju kuning and baju merah. “Let’s stop all the fight”.

It is the effect of December which brings great significance to the things around us. In the blink of an eye, it has been exactly 35 years since Lennon died.

Frank Sinatra, another great, would have been 100 years old a fortnight ago. And Saloma would be 80 in a month.

Being a big fan of The Beatles since they first broke into the international music scene, the assassination of Lennon came like a bolt right out of the blue, and I remember clearly where I was that day when I got the news − Dec 9, 1980 Malaysian time. I was a New Straits Times (NST) reporter in the Penang office.

Internet and smartphones were unheard of then, so the speed of news was, well, not so fast.

I was enjoying teh tarik and chapati just after work with a few friends at a hawker centre not far from our house in Tanjung Bungah when the chapati seller came up to us and muttered: “Have you heard? John Lennon died. Shot in New York.”

Everyone froze. The chapatis remained on the table for a long time.

The radios played Lennon and Beatles’ songs through the night. It was officially The Beatles’ worst disaster since their break-up, and what a loss it was.

To me, Lennon was the genius behind the Fab Four, who came up with gems like In My Life and Revolution.

I remember Lennon’s death as I do Sinatra’s, another legend. His voice was phenomenal, powerful and crystal clear.

That’s why someone would be given acclaim here just by sounding a wee bit like the man, like what happened to a short-lived singer by the name of Rajadin Wan Mat who shot to fame in the Bakat TV series in the early 1970s singing songs like I Got You Under My Skin and My Funny Valentine.

Sinatra had that kind of appeal. So, when he died of a heart attack on May 14, 1998, in Los Angeles, I still remember where I was at the time − on assignment in Khartoum, Sudan. I was news editor at the NST and was covering the official visit of the then prime minister Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad, first to Egypt and then Sudan.

I was back at the hotel in the centre of Khartoum after listening to Dr Mahathir delivering a strong speech to businessmen of both countries at a luncheon.

My ears were still ringing with his broadside a while ago, viciously attacking rogue currency traders, when TVs at the hotel lobby were switched on unusually loud, with people crowding around them. And the song My Way kept playing.

“Oh no, Frank Sinatra is dead.” The CNN breaking news flashed. I was stunned. I was already reeling from the death of a close friend just over a week before.

Jeffrey Ramayah, a colleague in the newsroom and always a great companion in the after-hours, had died at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, Selangor, after a short illness. Now this news about Sinatra, whom I had admired as an out-and-out entertainer.

We were taken on a, perhaps, once-in-a-lifetime boat ride through the confluence of the Blue and White Nile later that evening.

Even then, the songs of Sinatra were played endlessly in that magnificent ride. So, who would have guessed? Frank Sinatra and Khartoum. He would have hit a century last Dec 12.

For Saloma, I think it will be quite a while before Malaysia finds another songbird like her.

With offers coming from Australia and the United States, she ripped the singing stage scene apart with her clear and crispy voice. It was a real loss for the local entertainment industry when she died in 1983, just 10 years after the death of her legendary husband (Tan Sri) P. Ramlee.

Sorry for the depressing rant. But it’s that time of the year, and let us be reminded of what Lennon said in the song quoted above. War is over ... if you want it.

New Straits Times: Updated: 29 December 2015 at 11:00 AM
Make love, not war;
Life is Fleeting:
Much like the advice in lyrics of legendary singers, it's best we put the past behind as we usher in 2016

By Syed Nadzri, former NST group editor
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/119479/make-love-not-war

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Dzulkifli Abdul Razak

I was transiting in Singapore some time back and got to talking to an elderly Chinese janitor toiling away at the airport terminal. Nowadays, the conversation very quickly revolves around the economy and how difficult it is to make end meets.

In Singapore, like in Malaysia, people on the streets are the ones who feel it the most, but with one difference, according to my janitor friend. In Malaysia, there is still the vibrant kampung (village), a sanctuary where people can still have a good chance to survive when it comes to the crunch. The kampung serves as a reliable safety net, no matter how advanced the economy, provided it is kept intact.

Otherwise, the more urbanised and “developed” the kampung is, the more dire is the situation. In his own words, “Kita sama mati lor! (We die together)”, as there is no better place to go. In fact, he made it plain that he would make his way back to his kampung in neighbouring Johor should the situation warranted it.

The city-state had somewhat exhausted whatever was left of the kampung, he lamented.

The brief encounter was a timely reminder of what a kampung is all about − a word synonymous with “abundance” before its equilibrium was tempered by “development”, which we have now recognised as being “unsustainable”.

Unfortunately, this lesson is not learned well, if at all. Thus, as the year comes to a close, we mourn of yet another tragedy in the making − the vanishing kampung.

This is particularly apparent in Penang, where accusations and counter-accusations have been hogging the headlines as the kampung folk are rendered into mere pawns.

Reportedly, another kampung on the island, notably Kampung Selut near Sungai Pinang, is allegedly set for redevelopment.

Some 5,000 residents, who have been living in the Sungai Pinang area since the 1960s, were given a helping hand by the then prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein under the slum clearance programme for “squatters” to own land and houses.

But lately, Penang Island City Council Mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail insisted there was no such plan to redevelop or evict villagers.

She stressed that she had never approved of any development project at the site. However, a survey has been conducted to see if “there is a need for improvements to the village”, according to the mayor.

To this, Masjid Kampung Sungai Pinang chairman Ibrahim Din claimed a survey on the proposal to redevelop the area was sent to the villagers by the authorities.

He claimed the village was slotted to be redeveloped into a mixed housing project.

Redevelopment or otherwise, issues related to sustainable development and the sustainability of the kampung cannot be overemphasised. What is more to obliterate a whole kampung and its inhabitants under whatever pretext or ploy.

There have been too many works in literature that chronicled how the likes of kampung are disappearing or made to disappear worldwide, so much so that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has to register them under the list of World Heritage Sites.

While some are threatened by senseless wars, others are threatened by senseless “development”.

Closer to home, some have highlighted that Unesco World Heritage Site in George Town is not just about physical structure, but equally vital is the living heritage promoting lifestyles that once defined the society in a sustainable way.

Yet, they are in danger of dying because the ambience where they thrived is being transformed and “developed”, at the same time, demolishing irreplaceable values and cultures that have been the foundation of a sustainable community.

What is more if it involves unscrupulous planners and greedy developers linked to some subtle political agenda.

The immediate impact is the destruction of livelihood on which the community depends on with its long-lasting consequences. This then leads to an exodus of the younger generation as the kampung gasps for breath, leaving the elderly helplessly on their own.

In the final analysis, what started as physical (re)development will lend itself to a lingering socio-cultural suicide over a period of time!

Coupled with the disappearance of the kampung is the disappearance of local languages and traditions, which in turn, robs Malaysia of its richness, diversity and cultural balance, and living heritage.

This is one discourse that has not been fully explored in the nation’s future since sustainable development is a prominent blind spot in the framework of 2020.

Given we are barely five years away from the 2020 goals of a “developed” nation, we must be mindful of what we will forever lose by targeting the kampung in the name of “development” − learning from the bitter experiences of my janitor friend!

The New Straits Times, Published: 24 December 2015 at 12:31 PM
Save our vanishing kampung;
Caution: We have to be mindful of our heritage, lest we lose our culture, richness and diversity in our pursuit of development
By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, honorary professor at University of Nottingham and chair of leadership Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/118833/save-our-vanishing-kampung

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wartime sex slaves

TOKYO (AFP) - Mrs Akie Abe, the wife of Premier Shinzo Abe, said she has again visited the controversial Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo, posting photos of the site on the same day Japan and South Korea struck a landmark agreement on wartime sex slaves.

"My final visit of the year," Mrs Abe wrote on Monday (Dec 28) on her Facebook page, also noting that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The shrine honours millions of Japan's war dead, including several senior military and political figures convicted of war crimes after World War II, and visits by high-profile figures anger wartime adversaries China and South Korea.

Mrs Abe, known as a fan of South Korean culture, did not reveal exactly when she had visited the shrine. Her Facebook post was accompanied by two photos of shrine buildings.

The top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun cited a shrine official as saying it could not confirm whether she had entered the main shrine.

According to Mrs Abe's Facebook page, she also visited the shrine in May and August of this year.

Her husband, who visited the shrine in December of 2013, setting off a firestorm of criticism in China and South Korea and earning a rare rebuke from top ally the United States - made a ritual offering in October, though he did not go himself.

The announcement of Mrs Abe's latest visit comes as Japan and South Korea reached an agreement on the emotional and divisive issue of wartime sex slaves - known euphemistically as "comfort women" - that has long soured relations.

Japan said on Monday it was offering one billion yen (S$11.7 million) to help victims and an apology from the Prime Minister.

Mr Abe told reporters on Monday after speaking by phone with South Korean President Park Geun Hye that the agreement heralds a "new era" in relations between the two countries.

A conservative scholar close to Mr Abe told the Mainichi Shimbun daily that he and his wife might have decided to make the latest visit "to show consideration to his supporters who are against the agreement with South Korea".

Visits to the shrine by senior Japanese politicians routinely draw an angry reaction from China and South Korea, which see it as a symbol of Tokyo's militaristic past.

South Koreans and Chinese say that while Japan has issued numerous apologies over its wartime conduct, statements and actions by leaders and others, such as paying homage at Yasukuni, raise questions about Tokyo's sincerity.

Straits Times, Published: Dec 29, 2015, 2:53 PM SGT
Japan PM's wife Akie Abe visits Tokyo war shrine

BEIJING, Dec 29 (Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it would "wait and see" how sincere Japan was after South Korea and Japan reached a landmark agreement to resolve the issue of "comfort women".

"Comfort women" is a euphemism for those who were forced to work in Japan's wartime brothels, an issue that has long plagued ties between South Korea and Japan, as well as between China and Japan.

On Monday, the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea said in Seoul the issue would be "finally and irreversibly resolved" if all conditions were met.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Japan's history of militarism and aggression had brought deep suffering to China and other Asian countries.

"We have always consistently asked Japan to accurately face up to its history of aggression, learn the lessons of history and take concrete actions to win the trust of its Asian neighbours and the international community," Lu told reporters.

Chinese academics estimate about 200,000 Chinese women were forced to work as "comfort women".

Lu said China again urged Japan to face up to its history of aggression and deal with the issue responsibly.

When asked whether China believed Japan was sincere in resolving the issue, Lu said the government would be watching.

"Just like you, as for whether Japan can do it, if its words and actions are consistent from start to finish, we will wait and see."

Chinese ties with Japan have long been troubled by a territorial dispute and what China sees as Japan's failure to properly atone for wartime atrocities, as well as regional rivalry and military suspicion.

But relations have improved since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in 2014.

A front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, said the "comfort women" issue formed one part of the history of Japanese aggression.

"The possibility of the Japanese government going back on its word still exists," it said. "The ghosts of the history of aggression could, from time to time, stir up trouble again".

In Taiwan, the self-ruled island China claims as its own and a Japanese colony from 1895-1945, Foreign Minister David Lin said the agreement was "an opportunity for us to have further consultations with Japan on the relevant issues".

In principle, Taiwan wants a clear apology and reparation, he said, but both Taiwan and Japan needed to have more consultations on how to resolve the issue.

Mail On Line, Updated: 08:21 GMT, 29 December 2015
China to "wait and see" if Japan sincere on "comfort women" issue
(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee in BEIJING and J.R. Wu in TAIPEI; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3377177/China-wait-Japan-comfort-women-issue.html#ixzz3vmZsgl84

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Audrey Dermawan

Dear Santa, in three days, we will say our goodbyes to 2015 and welcome yet another new year, 2016. It is that time of year when we give thanks for the many good things that have come our way and set new resolutions for the upcoming year.

In Penang, we have quite a few things to be thankful for.

This year started with a bang when George Town, which lost its city status more than 40 years ago, was recognised as a city once more. With the upgrade, the Pearl of the Orient also witnessed the appointment of its first female mayor.

Along the way, we gained the accolade of being one of the world’s Top 10 cities, as rated by Lonely Planet. The world-renowned travel guide had, in October, listed George Town as the fourth best city to visit in its Best in Travel 2016 list.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation world heritage site was listed after Kotor (Montenegro), Quito (Ecuador) and Dublin (Ireland). The city was ahead of better-known places, such as Rotterdam (the Netherlands), Mumbai (India), Fremantle (Australia), Manchester (United Kingdom), Nashville (United States) and Rome (Italy).

However, the year also proved to be a challenging one for Penang.

Recently, the state was rocked by a land reclamation issue, which saw 1,500 fishermen objecting to a massive project that could affect their livelihoods.

It was reported that the proposed reclamation, which would allegedly help fund the state government’s massive Penang Transport Master Plan (TMP), would see the construction of three man-made islands 300m from the shores of Teluk Kumbar, Gertak Sanggul and Bayan Lepas.

TMP’s project delivery partner, SRS Consortium Sdn Bhd, had proposed to the state the reclamation of two man-made islands, measuring 526ha and 850ha, and possibly a third 324ha island nearby, if necessary.

Additionally, the detailed environmental impact assessment report for the project was conducted by a third party appointed by the project’s proponent, which cast doubt on the report’s credibility.

The project saw one DAP and five PKR assemblymen breaking ranks with the state government over a Barisan Nasional motion on the matter, tabled at the just-concluded state assembly sitting. DAP’s Tanjung Bungah assemblyman, Teh Yee Cheu, who cast a conscience vote to protect the environment, paid a heavy price when he was not voted into the party’s state committee.

Penang has been warned that it would be doomed if the reclamation went ahead.

The People’s Alternative Party (PAP) cautioned that the DAP-led state government’s reliance on reclamation projects to fund TMP could be disastrous to the environment in the long run.

PAP president Zulkifli Mohd Noor lamented how the state risked destroying its flora and fauna if it went ahead with such projects, adding that they should be shelved and replaced with the upgrading of basic infrastructure, such as roads, traffic lights and flood-mitigation systems.

Not too long ago, there was a heated debate on how Penang’s hills were being stripped bare, resulting in flash floods the likes of which had never been seen in decades. Concerns are mounting as to how much more development the state can take before its environment degrades and residents’ quality of life suffers.

So you see, Santa, your magical touch to put a stop to the rot happening in the state lately is much needed. Penang folk are environmentally conscious people, who will go to great lengths to protect their beloved state.

It is the people’s New Year resolution to start with a clean slate.

Santa, it is high time lawmakers unveiled the all-important comprehensive master plan for Penang. It is important for the state to have proper socio-economic planning and the people to know what is happening in their backyard, rather than play the guessing game.

The Penang Island Local Plan, which is ready to be gazetted but has been delayed for more than three years, is a detailed plan that specifies the density and type of project allowed in any given area.

Next year marks eight years of DAP leading the state, with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng at the helm. Eight years is not a short time. The time has come for the administration to make good on its promises and walk the talk. Penang can do with less politicking.

As Abraham Lincoln famously said: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Thank you, Santa. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

New Straits Times. Published: Monday, December 28, 2015
Penang's blessings and challenges
New Year wish: Hoping that land reclamation issue will be resolved
By Audrey Dermawan, NST Penang bureau chief
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/119332/penangs-blessings-and-challenges

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climbing monster

It’s the holiday season and this year, I received the gift I get most years – the gift of humiliation. That’s because humiliation is a common theme in my life.

This year’s holiday humiliation was a slice of karmic retribution for sins of my past. That sin being making light of my father.

And yes, I tease my father. I harass him mercilessly, verbally prodding him like some grade school sad sack. If someone implies he’s old – something that happens regularly because he is old – I laugh heartily.

Now you might think the reason I target my father with jokes is because I learned it from him; that my actions are just a reflection of his behaviour. But that’s not true. My father is a selfless, polite, humble man.

I’m just a bad son. A bad son that introduced his father to rock climbing.

My father had rock climbed in some bygone age where the only equipment needed were a rope and a pack of cigarettes. He knew nothing of modern equipment or the types of extreme climbing. When I got my dad into climbing, I showed him how to tie the knots and how to keep from plunging to a horrific death on the rocks below.

Four years ago, we rock climbed Central Crag in Hong Kong, a beautiful spot just behind the main business district on Hong Kong island. My climbing partner and I had been training hard and were in peak condition. We were climbing the hardest routes of our lives, lifting ourselves to new heights both physically and mentally with the tips of our fingers. We were untouchable.

And my father wasn’t. If watching a skilled climber – with their deliberate movements – was like watching someone do ballet on the rock, watching my dad learning to climb was like watching someone learning to breakdance on the side of the cliff. It was ugly. And as the jerky son he didn’t deserve, I let him know.

When he lost his grip and slipped from the rock, dangling in the air with his body spinning like the rotors on a helicopter, I laughed and laughed. When he couldn’t get his balance right, I smirked at the ground and shook my head. Yeah, I’m not going to earn climbing instructor of the year any time soon.

That day in Central Crag four years ago, my partner and I climbed hard, and my dad could barely keep up.

Fast forward to this holiday season and the three of us are all in Hong Kong again. But this time, things are different.

While my climbing buddy has gotten into a steady relationship where he eats too much and exercises too little, and I’ve finished shooting a food-themed travel show which involved me eating copious amounts of food, my father has been climbing.

He has been climbing four times a week, watching any YouTube video he could find about rope craft and alpine safety. He’s been pushing himself to his limits and breaking through them. When I talk to him on Skype, he’s all sleeveless tees and defined veiny biceps.

My father has become a climbing monster.

And so we go to Central Crag again. And I’m sure you can see where this is heading.

My buddy starts by leading what we used as a warmup climb. He stares up at the rock, makes a few moves and retreats. He looks sheepishly at me and says he can’t do it, that I’ll have to take the lead.

I do. I vault up the route and get to the same point that defeated my friend. But just like him, I can’t commit to any of the moves. I also retreat after staring at the rock and coming to grips with my physical and mental failure.

Then Dad takes his turn.

My buddy and I watch as he breezes past the middle of the climb where we were defeated. My father climbs past this obstacle like he’s cruising up a staircase.

My buddy and I shake our heads at each other. And when my father comes down from the climb, he doesn’t gloat or laugh in our faces. He just undoes the rope and says something about the rock being really nice.

Well, I deserved that. It was bound to happen, especially at this time of the year.

If your family can’t humiliate you during the holiday season, really, what’s the point?

The Star, Published: December 27, 2015
My dad is a climbing monster
By Jason Godfrey

SEPANG, Dec 27 (Bernama) -- Solo climber Khairil Aslan Ab Rashid, who conquered three peaks in the Himalayan Mountains, Kathmandu in Nepal recently, hopes to conquer seven peaks in seven continents within a year next year.

Khairil Aslan, 40, who arrived at the KL International Airport (KLIA) from Kathmandu yesterday said the success in conquering three Himalayan peaks namely the Maru Peak, Lobuche and Island within 32 days from Nov 26 had been a good training in preparing for the expedition next year.

The success in conquering the three Himalayan peaks also created a record for the Asian solo climber who made the expedition to the three peaks during the winter season.

"Subsequently, I wish to achieve a record as the fastest Asian solo climber to conquer seven peaks in seven continents within one year.

"I will begin my expedition in early February in Argentina to conquer the Aconcagua peak in the South American continent as the first peak and conclude the expedition in Carstensz Pyramid in the Australasian continent," he told reporters after arriving at the KLIA at 9.40 pm last night.

Besides the Aconcagua peak and Carstensz Pyramid, the other 5 peaks that he would climb in the seven-peak expidition next year are:

Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa,
Mount Vincon in the Antarctica,
Mount Denali in North America,
Mount Everest in Eurasia and
Mount Mauna Kea in the Pacific islands.

The father of three was received at the KLIA by his wife, Hamizah Hashim, 37 and his three children, Nur Ainnajwa Safhia, 16, Muhammad Najman Harith, 14 and Muhammad Najmie Haziq, six. Also present at the KLIA were his friends from his hometown in Batu Kurau, Perak.

Recalling his experience and the challenges he faced during the climb, Khairil Aslan said he had faced high risks throughout the expedition because climbing during the cold season was 10 times more difficult than normal.

"At the peak of Island, which was the last peak that I conquered, I was almost 95 per cent dead because of the change in weather and wind condition was very drastic at about 4.30 am on Dec 20. The wind was blowing at speeds of between 140 kmph and 160 kmph.

"At that time, I could not feel anything anymore. The blood in my body was no longer flowing. At that time, one of the three sherpas told me if we were to die, we would die together between 4.30 am and 5.30 am," he said.

However, Khairil Aslan said a miracle happened at 6.30 am when he could move his lips while praising the greatness of Allah after the sunlight appeared right above his head.

"At that time, I could warm up my body and could move my body. Alhamdulillah, at 8 am, I set foot on Island peak and we quickly moved down to base camp subsequently," he said.

Solo Climber Of Three Himalayan Peaks To Conquer Seven Peaks Next Year

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All I want this Christmas is...

EVER since I could remember, I have always looked forward to my favourite time of the year − the delightful month of December. I remember it with such fond recollections from my childhood, memories of Christmas songs playing all month long, of buying and exchanging gifts, of consuming roasted turkey and butter cookies, and of making New Year resolutions.

I remember wanting many things back then. They were mostly materialistic in nature, and evolved according to time − Barbie dolls, make-up sets, freedom and money.

However, all that changed after I turned a quarter-century old a few years back. Suddenly, objects that were materialistic in nature didn’t seem all that important to me. I didn’t find it a necessity to be in possession of the latest gadgets, or to be dressed in the trendiest fashion.

All that mattered to me were things that money can never buy − health, love and happiness. I realised that the journey of life can be a beautiful, wonderful one if undertaken with adequate positivity and the right attitude.

I was made aware of the fact that health is one of the aspects that can make a difference in that journey, and so, I made a change in my lifestyle by signing up for a gym membership and switching my diet to one that required less junk food and nasi lemak, and more healthy greens and rolled oats.

I finally understood that love is another key aspect in shaping one’s quality of life. I became less absorbed with making hundreds of friends and instead focused on my family, significant other and a handful of close friends who mean a great deal to me. Despite a hectic schedule and four hours of sleep per night on average, I started to make more time for my loved ones, because it suddenly dawned upon me that these people will not be with me forever. The last thing I would want is to wake up someday and realise that I hadn’t spent enough time with them, or that I didn’t tell them how much I love them.

It took me a while, but at long last I comprehended the fact that true happiness is not something one goes out into the world to seek and catch hold of. It’s something one attains by waking up each morning and looking forward to a good day, and then going to bed each night being thankful for being blessed with another day on Earth. True happiness is when one is able to be happy despite not having everything in life. It’s that inner peace that one possesses despite all the chaos one is surrounded by.

We now live in a world where power and wealth seem to be all that is of significance. From the stories my late grandparents and parents told me while I was growing up, this wasn’t the case two or three decades ago. Back then, family values carried more weight than family assets. Back then, the little things in life mattered more than one’s bank balance. Back then, a simple birthday celebration at home meant more than an overpriced, Instagram-worthy wedding banquet.

What happened to all that?

Where did we go wrong?

Why have we changed so much?

When did all of this change take place?

I do not have the answers to these questions, nor am I able to tell you what you need to do to make a positive change in your life. That is something you need to figure out on your own. My only advice is that you don’t take too long and procrastinate too much. Having regrets is never a pleasant experience, and it doesn’t help matters when it is something one would be forced to endure for a painstakingly long time in life.

This year, make a different set of New Year resolutions.

Call your parents more often to tell them that you love them. Leave work on time to share precious moments with your children.

Instead of aiming to clinch that promotion, aim to become a positive influence in people’s lives. Most importantly, live your life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone.

New Straits Times, Updated: 27 December 2015 at 11:00 AM
All I want this Christmas is...
By Ashley Greig - a lecturer at Sunway College, is a Malaysian-born Eurasian with Scottish/Japanese/Indian lineage who believes in a tomorrow where there is no racism and hatred
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/119172/all-i-want-christmas

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Miracle girls keen to start school

‘Tsunami miracle baby’ S Thulaasi is grateful to survive the killer waves and is more determined to achieve her goal of scoring eight A's in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) next year.

She has no memory of the fateful day she was swept away on her mattress out to sea, off Batu Ferringhi, by the giant waves that hit Penang on Boxing Day in 2004 and a second wave brought it back, with her still sound asleep on it.

Despite having no memory of the tragedy, she said she knew that it was a miracle to survive the incident and it had taught her to be more determined in life.

The bubbly and active 11-year-old from a Tamil school in George Town, now wishes to achieve eight A's in the UPSR next year.

"I'm more determined than ever to study hard and achieve straight A's in my UPSR exam," she said when met by reporters during a thanksgiving and prayer ceremony organised by her father A Suppiah at the beach.

Thulaasi was only 22 days old when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit 13 countries including Malaysia, killing more than 200,000 people and displacing about 1.7 million others.

Suppiah, 66, said her daughter showed no signs of fearing the sea and she would go out for a swim whenever their relatives visited them.

He said each year, his family would hold a thanksgiving and prayer session (atma shanti pooja) at the site, to keep the departed souls claimed by the disaster, at peace.

"We survive until today because of God's will and we will never forget the tragedy, but we are moving on with our lives as we are also proud of Thulaasi as she is doing well in school," he said.

Visitor A Thila, 40, from Puchong, Selangor, said they came to know about the tsunami miracle baby after they visited Suppiah's cafe in George Town.

She said they were not aware that there would be a prayer session at the site each year and this was the first time they met Thulaasi, the miracle baby.

"We learned a lot during the tsunami as people were fighting for their lives to survive and it has taught us to cherish our own life," said the bank officer.

The tsunami which was triggered by a 9.3 magnitude undersea earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, on Dec 26, 2004, claimed more than 200,000 casualties in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Many of those killed were tourists enjoying their Christmas holidays in hot spots like Phuket in Thailand, while Aceh was hit the hardest as it was the closest to the epicentre.

Bernama, Updated 27 Dec 2015, 6:10 am
Tsunami baby eyeing straight A’s in UPSR next year

Gua Musang: The 2 Orang Asli girls Norieen Yaakob, 10 and Mirsudiar Aiuj,11 who survived a 7 week ordeal in the jungle at Pos Tohoi near here in August are keen to return to classes but want to move to a new school.

Norieen said she could not wait for school to begin but refused to go to SK Thohoi because she was traumatised by the tragedy.

"I will remember all my friends. I miss my brother Haikal, who died in the incident." she said at her house in Kampoung Penad here...

Norieen's mother, Midah Ngah, 40, said she believed the incident affected her daughter deeply.

"I believe she cannot forget the incidents. I have tried to help her, including seeking treatment from a bomoh." she said.

Meanwhile, Mirsudiar said she had decided to continue her studies at SK Kuala Betis as she felt safer there.

"Most of th pupils of SK Tohoi are moving there and I think it would be better for me."

Mirsudiar said doctors had confirmed that she had a heart problem and needed follow-up treatment.

New Straits Times, Puiblished: Monday, December 28, 2015
Orang Asli girls keen to start school

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5 action steps after Paris deal

What do the decline of Adélie penguins in Antartica, the spread of West Nile virus, the 2003 heatwave in Europe (which killed 30,000 people), the 2007 floods in Johor, the evacuation of the Carteret Islands and the spark for the war in Syria all have in common?

Climate change.

Have no doubt, global warming is already changing life on Earth in all kinds of ways. This isn’t something happening in the future but now.

As temperatures warm, more artic species are under threat, tropical diseases spread northwards and hot spells get more intense. The warmest decade globally, since temperatures were first recorded in the late 19th century, was the last one. Yup, it really is hotter now.

It’s also wetter. Last December, the East Coast had almost double the usual monsoon rainfall. Warmer air intensifies the circulation of water, resulting in more rainfall, and so more frequent and severe floods. Extreme weather of all kinds – storms, hurricanes, droughts – will increase, in intensity and incidence. We had eight cyclones in Malaysia in 2014, according to the Meteorological Department, and cyclones are rare here!

Sea levels are also rising with the melting glaciers in both polar caps. The Carteret Islanders of Papua New Guinea had to flee their island this year; some islands in the Maldives have also been evacuated.

And Syria? The link with climate change and the war may seem tenuous, in the midst of many other factors, but it was most likely a spark that lit a fuse. In 2006, a severe drought in Syria began which led to a million desperate people migrating to the cities, inevitably creating social unrest. Consider Syria a sign of things to come – climate change will cause conflict, amid food and water scarcities.

Thankfully countries have come together in a historic agreement in Paris recently to act upon the problem.

Malaysia has already committed to reducing its carbon emission to 40% of its 2005 levels. Carbon dioxide, released by burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal, is a key cause of global warming. Great commitment, but how about more action towards this?

Here are five action steps I believe we should take:

1. Energy planning

As a nation, we waste an awful lot of power. We could cut down our dependence on fossil fuels – unfortunately still our main power source – simply by beefing up energy efficiency and conservation. Goods with high energy efficiency should be taxed less, for example. Government departments should have a strict energy conservation policy. But every one of us can help save energy, which of course also saves us money. We also need to invest far more into renewable energy. With all this sun, how come we have so little solar energy?

2. Preserve our forests

Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air, converting it into oxygen, which they release, and carbon, which they store. Forests are thus a natural, efficient defence against climate change.

Deforestation not only releases carbon but causes soil erosion. So saving our trees saves the Earth.

3 Boost public transport

Less cars on the road means less carbon dioxide in the air. What about other options, such as car pooling and cycle paths?

4. Eat less meat, especially beef

The livestock industry actually causes more global warming than transport. The animals themselves produce a lot of methane, a toxic global warming gas. Plus, fertilisers used on crops to feed animals release nitrous oxide, which is 300 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. The bulk of agricultural land worldwide is used to grow crops for animals. And beef requires almost 30 times more land to produce than chicken.

5. Reduce fertiliser use

As explained above, fertilisers are bad news. Plantations and agriculture use an awful lot of fertilisers, which also pollute our waterways. There are dead zones in seas around the world from fertiliser use. This is one argument for supporting organic food or even better, grow your own food.

We owe it to our children to take action.

The Star, Published: December 20, 2015
5 steps we should take to reduce carbon emission
By Mangai Balasegaram

UNITED NATIONS − When international negotiators reached a first-of-its kind climate change agreement in Paris this month, the United Nations’ normally low-key leader, Ban Ki-moon, celebrated onstage, arms raised in victory and more exuberant than many had ever seen him before.

Nearly nine years had passed since, in his first days as secretary-general, Ban surprised world leaders by making global warming a top item on his agenda. Now, on the eve of his final year in office, the cheers in Paris marked the culmination of his nonstop campaign, pressed with world leaders at summit after summit and in locales including melting glaciers and islands at risk of disappearing.

It was an emotional moment, and looking back at the road to Paris in an interview with The Associated Press, Ban paid tribute to many people, including the leaders of the United States, China, India and France. He also spoke proudly of his own role.

No other leader in the world “has been raising, without fail, all the time, climate change,” Ban said. “I have spent real passion ... and most of my time and energy on this issue.”

It was quite a shift for the former South Korean foreign minister, whose main focus before becoming the eighth U.N. secretary-general in 2007 was his country’s standoff with North Korea.

Ban traced his interest in climate change to his yearlong campaign to lead the United Nations, which took him to many countries and broadened his vision of global issues.

Two weeks before he was sworn in as secretary-general, Ban told Tim Wirth, then president of the United Nations Foundation, that one of his two highest priorities would be climate change, along with empowering women.

“You could have blown me away,” Wirth said of Ban’s choice of tackling global warming. “He had a deep commitment then, and he has stayed with it, and stayed with it, and stayed with it.”

At the time, climate change was not a popular topic.

The 1997 Kyoto treaty, which required only rich countries to limit emissions blamed for global warming, was set to expire in 2012. Negotiations on a new agreement had almost collapsed, Ban said.

“I thought that I needed to revive this one,” he said.

His first high-level meeting as U.N. chief was with then-President George W. Bush.

The original agenda for their January 2007 meeting didn’t include climate change, Ban said, and Bush “seemed to be a little bit surprised” when he raised it.

Undeterred, Ban decided to hold the first-ever climate change summit at the United Nations in July 2007.

He invited Bush and told him that the success of the summit would depend on his participation. Bush came, though he didn’t address the summit.

That connection paid off at a U.N. conference in Bali in December 2007.

The United States, the lone major industrial nation to reject Kyoto, was opposing India’s proposal to strengthen requirements for richer nations to help poorer countries with technology to limit emissions. In one of the most memorable moments in climate change diplomacy, tiny Papua New Guinea implored America to lead or get out of the way.

An isolated United States capitulated, and the first roadmap for addressing climate change was adopted.

“Miraculously, I was able to save this one, but I didn’t know why,” Ban said.

In early 2009, he finally found out.

Ban and his wife were invited to dinner at the White House in last of the last days of the Bush presidency. Bush told the U.N. chief that when the Bali meeting reached a difficult moment, he got a call from the head of the U.S. delegation asking for instructions.

Ban said Bush told him: “Suddenly, you came to my mind. Then I told the delegation head, ‘Do what the secretary-general of the U.N. wants to do,’.”

The secretary-general said he still feels “very much grateful” to Bush.

“That was the beginning of our success,” Ban said.

But then came the disappointment of the 2009 Copenhagen climate change negotiations.

In Copenhagen, a newly elected President Barack Obama showed “great commitment,” even working on proposed global text from his laptop, Ban said. But there were too many differences and negotiations ended with no agreement.

“From the failure of Copenhagen, we learned a great lesson,” Ban said.

One was to have every country provide its own national action plan to combat climate change. Another was to get countries to agree to have a universal climate change agreement by 2015.

Meanwhile, Ban was traveling the world to spotlight the impacts of climate change. His visits to Antarctica and the Arctic showcased melting ice, and his visits to the Aral Sea in central Asia and Lake Chad in west Africa warned of their disappearance. He visited the low-lying Pacific island nation of Kiribati, where he found a life jacket in his room in case of inundation.

He also asked to attend annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund − a first for a U.N. secretary-general − to talk to finance ministers on the need to mobilize $100 billion in climate financing annually by 2020.

As the summit in Paris approached, Ban participated in monthly strategy videoconferences with the leaders of France and Peru and later, Germany. One key decision was to reverse the usual negotiations process and have country leaders attend the start of the summit to give impetus and clear direction to negotiators.

The Paris opening was the largest-ever gathering of country leaders, with 150 assembled, the secretary-general said.

But there were about half a dozen “spoilers,” countries ready to block consensus on an agreement. Nicaragua refused to submit its national plan, arguing that rich nations should be compelled to make deeper emission cuts.

Ban recalled the moment the Nicaraguan delegation said “we will not block” a deal. The French foreign minister immediately gaveled approval of the agreement, which was later adopted unanimously.

The Paris agreement, adopted by nearly 200 nations, calls on both poor and rich countries to cut greenhouse gas pollution. It aims to keep global temperatures from rising another degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) between now and 2100.

Ban’s perseverance and leadership were essential, said former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who headed a U.N.-appointed commission that published a groundbreaking report in 1987 outlining the dangers of climate change.

“This is not a one-man show, but the one man is important,” Brundtland said.

Without him, “we cannot take for granted that we would be here.”

The Washington Post, Published: December 26, 2015
Climate deal caps a long quest for UN chief
By Edith M. Lederer, AP

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Silent Night

When "Silent Night" was born in Austria almost 200 years ago, those present had little idea that the Christmas carol would one day be sung the world over, including this year by Miley Cyrus and some Swedish goats.

Such though was the destiny of "Stille Nacht", premiered to a modest church congregation of ship labourers and their families in this small town in Austria on Christmas Eve, 1818.

The words, since translated into more than 300 languages and dialects -- including Japanese, Welsh and Farsi -- had been written as a poem by a priest, Joseph Mohr, in 1816, a time of great suffering in the wake of Europe's Napoleonic wars.

Two years later, Mohr asked his friend stationed in a nearby village, the organist, choirmaster and schoolteacher Franz Xaver Gruber, to compose a tune.

When Gruber duly obliged on December 24, the two men decided to sing it together that very evening at mass in Oberndorf church.

The organ was broken, according to legend because of nibbling mice, so Mohr played guitar.

Many years later in his 1854 "Authentic Account of the Origin of the Christmas Carol, 'Silent Night, Holy Night!'," Gruber recalled there was "general approval by all".

This approval would snowball, although it is a bit of a mystery how exactly the song then spread.

It is thought that a key role was played by one Carl Mauracher, a master organ builder and repairman, who took the song back home to the Zillertal valley in the Tyrol region.

There it was adopted by two travelling singing groups, the Rainer Singers and the Strasser Siblings, who performed around Europe and beyond -- including in the Rainers' case in the United States.

"They were the pop stars of the time," said Anna Holzner from the Silent Night museum -- home today to Mohr's guitar -- in Hallein, where Gruber lived until his death in 1863.

An English version of the German original soon followed, and by the end of the 19th century it was being sung on all continents, its spread helped by Christian missionaries.

During World War I, legend has it that German and British soldiers in opposing trenches sang it at Christmas 1914, its call for peace sounding out over no man's land during a famous truce.

Since then the song has been recorded many hundreds of times by the likes of Bing Crosby -- to huge success -- and Elvis Presley, without forgetting John Denver with the Muppets and gravel-voiced satanic German rockers Erloesung.

This year, along with Cyrus', comes a new version bleated by goats released by the Swedish branch of charity Action Aid -- part of an album entitled "All I want for Christmas is a Goat".

Today, Mohr and Gruber are honoured in around a dozen sites locally, including in Oberndorf and in Hochburg-Ach, Gruber's birthplace where for the past 10 years locals have performed a special play every Christmas.

"In my country this song is sung in 20 or 30 different languages," Sally, 45, a bus driver in Salzburg originally from Ghana, told AFP, one of several people performing the song in different languages in the play.

The original Oberndorf church -- along with its pesky mice -- was demolished at the beginning of the 20th century after being damaged by floods. Today in its place stands a small chapel.

With stained glass windows depicting Mohr and Gruber, every December 24 thousands of people gather outside for a Christmas ceremony, including of course a rendition of "Silent Night".

France 24, Updated: 22 December 2015 - 08H25
'Silent Night': from village ditty to global Christmas hit
By Simon Sturdee, AFP

Mr Yahho will take a Christmas break and will be back on Monday.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !

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Azmi Sharom

Despite wanting to think of nothing but indulging in Christmas buffets, I found myself reading an old case the other day (what can I say; it’s my job). It was the Government of Kelantan v the Government of the Federation of Malaya (1963). Basically that was the time when the state government objected to the formation of Malaysia because it said that it was never consulted.

The Kelantan Government lost because the judge found that there was nothing in the Constitution that compelled the Federal Government to consult with the states on the creation of Malaysia.

Anyway, I am not going to give a constitutional law lecture here.

The reason I raise this case is because I found the opening statement by the judge fascinating.

Let me repeat it here (OK, I admit, I am copying long quotes because I am in holiday mood and I’m taking the easy way to fill up column inches).

However, on to Chief Justice James Thomson.

“Before dealing with this application I would express my great appreciation of the assistance I have derived from the arguments of counsel. I would make it clear that if I do not discuss these arguments with the thoroughness which they deserve, it is not due to any discourtesy but due to the necessity of disposing of the application today,” he said.

“I would also express my appreciation of the temperance and restraint with which counsel on both sides have stated their case and, in particular, of the acceptance by each side of the sincerity of the other.

The difference between the parties are clearly very profound. That they should have been prepared to discuss them here with such moderation and sympathy for each other’s point of view augurs well for the future of the country”.

Notice he started off with thanking the lawyers for their assistance and then effectively apologising for not having the time to discuss their arguments in depth. Manners maketh the man, as they say.

Furthermore, as the second paragraph shows, it wasn’t just the judge who behaved in a polite manner.

The lawyers too were commended for their civility towards one another and how they practised restraint despite being on diametrically opposed camps dealing with a passionate subject matter.

This opening statement by the judge and his description of the behaviour of the lawyers just reeks of class.

It is that intangible quality that raises one above the crude and the crass.

To be able to do battle without resorting to lowering oneself to the basest of speech and action.

To be able to act with humility even when one holds the highest judicial office in the land.

My goodness, how we are lacking such class today.

If the powerful are corrupt, can we be surprised if the lowly are too? If the high and mighty behave like thugs, can we be surprised if the hoi polloi do so too?

In present times, one would be hard-pressed to find examples of those with the power and the influence over society acting in a way that is dignified and noble.

On the contrary, we have men and women purporting to be leaders but behaving in a manner that ought to be scorned if conducted by the meanest of the citizenry, let alone those who stalk the corridors of power. In short, we don’t have any class.

I am struck and quite saddened by the Chief Justice’s last sentence, where he points out that such good behaviour as displayed by the lawyers on both sides augured well for the nation. I believe he would be disappointed to see that his prophecy was far from accurate.

Be that as it may, this is no way to end my Christmas article.

I declare that we the people can bring a bit of class to this sad little country of ours.

We can do so by behaving in a manner that does not pander to the crass and the uncouth. We battle them, of course, but with dignity and with honour.

We do not lower ourselves to their level. We can show some class.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everybody!

The Star, Published: Wednesday, 23 December 2015
Let’s make Malaysia a class act
The country can be much better if we counter the uncouth with humility, dignity and honour.
If the powerful are corrupt, can we be surprised if the lowly are too ?
If the high and mighty behave like thugs, can we be surprised if the hoi polloi do so too?
By Azmi Sharom, a law teacher
The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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Syed Nadzri

IT is hard to fathom why Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year this time is not even a word but rather a symbol you often see appearing in your handphone messages − the smiley sort with tears of joy. They call that childish symbol emoji. Goodness me, I don’t know what that means either, just that it sounds so Japanese.

Word of the year is normally chosen from significantly dominant expressions but the thing to note is, has Oxford English Dictionary, which in itself boasts of 600,000 entries covering over 1,000 years, actually run out of clear-cut words for the distinction? Or has that electronic symbol been too overwhelming to ignore over the whole of this year? To give a better perspective, it has to be noted that the dictionary’s word for last year was vape and the year before that, selfie. Yes, both these terms have created more than a sensation in this country as well.

Be that as it may, so has emoji. Almost every other electronic message you receive on your phone application is bound to carry the emotional codes of smiling, crying or laughing symbols. Extensions include the thumbs up or thumbs down symbols or the two-finger peace sign. The smiley has caught the world by storm. Hence, Oxford Dictionary has found it appropriate to pick it as the word of the year.

Which raises the next question: by making a symbol as word of the year, does it mean we are really losing or have lost it altogether to the old art of sentence construction? To me it is another blow to the old romance of writing. For instance, instead of saying it the old-fashioned way: “This is to inform you that I thoroughly enjoyed your joke and could not help but burst out laughing loud hahaha”, one cheeky little symbol of the emoji does the work of 20 words. Splash and it says it all. Reduce the clutter.

Probably the world is into word-savers. Add that to all sorts of abbreviated words now commonly used in electronic messages and we see a clear transformation of where our forms of communication are heading. “Hw u tday” and answer: (thumbs up symbol).

Coincidentally, Merriam-Webster, another international dictionary, has also picked less than a word as word of the year, picking the suffix “ism” for the honours.

The Associated Press reported that the top “isms” to earn high traffic spikes and big bumps in lookups on the dictionary company’s website this year over the year before were socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism and terrorism. Malaysia went through that quite as well not too long ago with cronyism, nepotism and all kinds of sarcasms.

Dictionary.com, on the other hand, chose identity as its word for 2015 to signify a year when gender, race, sexuality and nationality have dominated the news.

“Over the past year, headlines tied to gender, sexuality and race dominated the news,” Time magazine reported. “In particular, many of the year’s biggest stories focused on the way in which individuals or members of a group are perceived, understood, accepted or shut out.”

Editors said they picked identity after they saw spikes in lookups for words such as transgender, cisgender and microaggression, which Dictionary.com defines as“a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other non-dominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype”.

What about word of the year in Malaysia, the word that is not only often used but rings with significance in 2015? Nothing doing with the notoriety that they might bring but it is not hard actually to pick from this few − Oil, GST and Ringgit.

New Straits Times, Updated: 22 DECEMBER 2015 @ 11:01 AM
Making sense of 'emoji' as Oxford's word of the year;
Smileys: Gone are the days of expressive sentences as symbols, or emoticons, have taken away the romance of writing
By Syed Nadzri, former NST group editor
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/118488/making-sense-emoji-oxfords-word-year

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Harun Yahya

A DOCUMENTARY by Channel 4 News last month movingly showed the suffering that loneliness causes to millions of elderly people.

Margaret Nickless attempted, with tears in her eyes, to describe her plight in the words, “If you have never been lonely, you cannot imagine what it is like”. Roy Croucher described loneliness in the words, “You know that when you return to a totally empty home, you know that loneliness will afflict you again. And you spend all your days waiting for the phone to ring”.

The number of people living alone across the world is approaching 300 million. That figure is also growing by the year. The rapid rise in the number of people who live alone or feel lonely, particularly in Western societies, is attracting considerable interest among scientists and is the subject of much research.

As in so many areas, America tops the list. More than 32 million people in the country live alone; 28 per cent of households consist of only one person.

Eric Klinenberg, a professor of sociology from New York University, approaches the subject differently and suggests that solitude is a new “trend”. The world of brand names and consumerism have certainly made solitude a trend. Products aimed at people who live alone are extraordinarily popular across the world. World-famous brands concentrate on products aimed at single people.

In short, people who live alone are regarded as a significant “economic market”. The reason for this is that the majority of people who live alone generally tend to lead active lives; they frequently dine out and participate more often in activities such as going to concerts, the theatre and cinema and they make more use of sports centres.

Therefore, instead of measures to prevent solitude, people are literally being encouraged to adopt it. And, of course, that leads to a serious increase in the numbers of people living alone.

Another surprising thing is that the great majority of people now live alone out of choice, not because they have to.

Klinenberg attributes this to people now having the purchasing power to meet their needs entirely by themselves. To put it another way, he is saying that as people’s economic means grow, so does their potential for living alone.

The reason why young people prefer to live alone, according to Klinenberg, is their search for an identity.

Another factor associated with the increase in the number of people living alone is technology. The fact that people are in constant contact thanks to the Internet and social media is another important factor in the rise of people living alone.

Yet, neither advances in technology or communications or transportation are in fact responsible for so many people living alone. There is but one reason for this problem that is growing by the day; the lovelessness that is afflicting the world. The lack of love in the world is the only reason why young and old choose, or are condemned, to live in solitude.

People do not love one another. They disregard and take no interest in one another; elderly people find themselves abandoned, with nobody feeling the slightest pang of conscience. A blind eye is turned to their living isolated from the world.

Young people, who receive no interest or love from the people around them, are encouraged to take up habits that will end up harming them. People who become tired of friendlessness and lovelessness seek the company of dogs, cats, budgies, cats and tropical fish instead.

People who fail to find the love they seek lose all the joy of living and decide to live alone. The list could be extended in even greater detail.

The fact is that lovelessness is one of the greatest societal scourges. Solitude is the most dangerous sickness caused by lovelessness and one of the greatest causes of suffering. Indeed, international law has determined that isolation is the worst punishment for criminal offences.

Criminals are condemned to isolation in prison because of their crimes. The longer the sentence, the worse the punishment. Life imprisonment, in one sense, means a life of solitude.

Contrary to what many academic studies suggest, solitude is not a natural part of life. Being together in a spirit of love and friendship and brotherhood, as the old saying goes, is the spice of life. It is inhuman to choose a life devoid of love and friendship or to impose such a life on others.

Human beings are created to wish to see beauty around them and to delight in it. A joyous faith in the heart and love of God gives rise to a profound love for the manifestations of Him. The soul can only be at ease when it sees the manifestations of God. Animals, plants, trees, fruits, foods and lovely views are all delightful manifestations of the existence of God but the most intense manifestation of God is human beings. The moral values, love and affection of God are most intensely manifested in humanity.

Like many other problems in the world, loneliness can be eradicated if people live by love. Everyone will then come together in a spirit of love and everyone, great or small, will be loved and respected. Nobody will be condemned to a life of solitude or even wish to live alone. They will spend their days in joy and happiness, as if every day were a holiday. We all have a duty to make those fine times a reality.

New Straits Times, Updated: 22 DECEMBER 2015 at 11:02 AM
Solitude is the new trend;
The lack of love and modern products that focus on those living alone make for an increasingly isolated world
By Harun Yahya
The writer is the author of more than 300 books, translated into 73 languages, on politics, religion and science
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/118496/solitude-new-trend

Is our family broken? Are you enjoying the community activities? Is there the union for employee in work place? Do you have a right to be heard? Is our world segmented and isolated? Where is the justice? .....

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wrong trajectory

I HAVE been mulling over this article for more than a week.

Since we are now close to the year-end, I wanted to write a piece summarising my thoughts about 2015.

I also wanted to reflect the current festive season.

Unfortunately, that is not easy to do.

To me, 2015 has been a frustrating and disappointing year.

If previously many people had been saying that our country was heading in the wrong direction, 2015 seems to have confirmed that our politicians have charted that disastrous trajectory for us.

We have many examples of questionable decisions taken by our politicians.

The darkest day this year was...

A few days later, he said: “I will evaluate people based on their loyalty.

There are a lot of smart people around but to find those who are loyal is rare.

When loyalty is more prized than aptitude, it is a bad sign for our country.

But that is the path that our top leadership seems to prefer...

By now the MPs already know that there is a heavy price to pay if they show any sign of independent thinking...

I see today a society that has been conditioned to not ask questions.

The top leaders can do whatever they want and the majority in our society would blindly obey.

On the international platform, our country has taken a battering from almost every angle.

Our credibility has been tarnished.

I don’t think we can regain that credibility unless we provide credible answers to the many predicaments that exist today.

If we don’t undergo that tough process, we will not be able to regain the true respect that we once enjoyed.

Unfortunately there is no sign that our politicians are willing to do the necessary.

Everything indicates that we will go into 2016 with politicians whose only interest is to secure their own positions.

There is no political will to change.

With this kind of scenario, I find it difficult to look forward to 2016 with the festive spirit we are supposed to have today.

For I really do fear for the future of our country.

The Star, Published: Tuesday, 22 December 2015
A bleak future if there’s no change
By Wan Saiful Wan Jan
chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs

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George Monbiot

This is humanity’s great paradox: we are the only animal capable of sustained empathy and altruism towards unrelated beings – and we are the only animal that murders so many of its own kind, and lays waste to the planet it inhabits.

While our violence towards each other has diminished with astonishing speed, as Steven Pinker documents, our violence towards the living planet appears to be intensifying. The megafauna that once dominated most parts of the world is now confined to small and shrinking pockets, from which it is disappearing at great speed.

At the current rate of poaching, rhinos and elephants could vanish from almost every corner of Africa by the time a child born today leaves school. Lions once lived almost everywhere: across Europe, Asia, the Americas and throughout Africa. In the 1940s there were some 450,000 remaining in Africa. Now there are 20,000, and the population is forecast to halve over the next 20 years.

In just one fire season, much of the Indonesian rainforest has been fragmented and incinerated. The marine ecosystem is collapsing in front of our eyes, food webs unravelling through overfishing and pollution. Soil, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, is being lost so fast that the world has, on average, just another 60 years of crop production. The climatic space in which human civilisation flourished is slamming shut.

Could it be that the two trends are related? Might the remarkable decline in the violence human beings inflict on each other have been obtained by violating the living world? Have we, by seizing and liquidating natural wealth, bought ourselves a temporary respite from resource conflict?

There is a more optimistic way of understanding the human paradox. With the possible exception of the naked mole rat, which is a eusocial mammal (it has a family structure similar to that of bees and ants), no vertebrate species is as sociable as we are. Mole rats subordinate their individual interests only to those with whom they share genetic material. But we are capable of subordinating ours even to those of total strangers: sending money to charities, taking in refugees, volunteering as human shields.

We use our social tendencies to normalise such remarkable behaviour. But the same ability to unite, to put ourselves in second place, can also be used to normalise our darkest tendencies: greed, violence, destruction, subordination to the demands of psychopaths. Most people align themselves with the status quo, whether it be democracy, monarchy, Stalinism, Nazism, care for the living planet or a carnival of ruin.

In other words, the problem is not that we are inherently inclined towards destruction, waste and killing, any more than we are inherently inclined towards angelic feats of kindness and love.

Our social brain is capable of normalising either tendency. It is not human nature we need to change, but the norms and institutions that play upon it. In other words, the task is not, as some imagine, impossible, but merely difficult.

Through the transformations that Pinker documents, we appear to have undergone what the novelist Michel Houellebecq calls a metaphysical mutation in our relations with each other: the precipitous decline in violence that has occurred, against all predictions, in less than a century. Now we have to do the same for our relationship with the living world.

Yes, there’s a long way to go. We seem to be better at persuading ourselves we have changed than we are at changing. The climate agreement in Paris was widely greeted as a breakthrough. It is nothing of the kind. Shorn of targets, timetables and binding instruments, it is a highly effective programme for salving the collective conscience of the delegates, and little more.

As the website climateparis.org explains, even if every pledge nations brought to the talks were honoured (and already governments such as the UK’s are breaking theirs), by 2030 the world will be producing more greenhouse gases than it does today. At that point we will have 14 years to reduce global emissions to zero, to stand a fair chance of preventing more than two degrees of global warming.


If the Paris agreement’s “aspirational” aim of no more than 1.5 degrees is to be achieved, other estimates suggest, carbon emissions must fall off a cliff soon after 2020. The festival of self-satisfaction with which the talks ended was a “mission accomplished” moment, a grave case of premature congratulation.

Such failures reflect a general conviction that more effective action is impossible. It’s too difficult, too expensive to prevent the slow collapse of the biosphere; easier just to live with it – or die with it. But while the global support for renewable energy – $121bn a year – is widely decried as an outrageous drain upon the public purse, the $452bn with which the G20 nations support fossil fuels is, apparently, eminently affordable. It’s out of the question to keep fossil fuels in the ground but not, according to some commentators, to move cities in response to climate change or, as one columnist infamously proposed, to allow the tropics to be reduced to “wastelands with few folk living in them”.

The toxic stream of disinformation about climate change pumped out by companies such as Exxon mingles with a deep current of anti-intellectualism. But it is not our destiny to be swept away by this nonsense, any more than it is our destiny to resist it. This is a choice we take both alone and together. We have a remarkable capacity to make and to unmake social norms, as the great rejection of violence since the second world war attests.

There are plenty of examples –among both indigenous people and industrial economies – of collective agreements not to maximise the exploitation of resources. Such restraint is as much a human tendency as greed and profligacy. If we can stop killing each other so rapidly, we can just as easily and just as quickly stop killing the other beings that inhabit our planet. Human peace and prosperity do not depend on ecological violence. Indeed, it could be argued that they depend on its cessation.

The Guardian, Updated: Wednesday 16 December 2015 17.45 GMT
We’ve almost stopped killing each other. Now let’s spare the planet;
The astonishing drop in violence between human beings needs to be matched by an end to violence against the natural world
By George Monbiot

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Forest reserve in peril

Orangutan is on the brink of extinction in 5 years.

The threat to the Red Man of the forest
The orangutan, known as the red man of the forest, is losing vital habitat as the forests of Sumatra and Borneo are in demand for conversion to palm oil plantations.
Habitat conversion from natural forests to oil palm plantations has been shown to have a devastating impact on tropical forests, along with plants and animals that depend on them.

In 2006, about 6 million of the 11 million hectares of oil palm plantations globally were in Indonesia. In many areas, these plantations are taking over rainforests, the natural habitat of endangered species such as orangutans.

Scientists estimate that less than 60,000 orangutans now remain in the wild on Borneo and Sumatra.

The palm oil industry, which is causing clear-cutting of forests, forest fires, and also facilitates greater access for hunters and traders, is one of the most important factors in the dramatic reduction of orangutan populations.

WWF, Forest Conversion

Not only Orangutan, but the way of life among Orangs Asli:

GUA MUSANG: For centuries, the jungle and rivers have provided everything for the Temiar people, the orang asli who have always lived in this part of the country.

But the modern world has come calling, and ecroaching into their space. Now, the Temiar’s very existence is under threat.

Their way of life – harvesting and hunting all they need, and sharing what they have with the whole community – is dying out.

Villager Dendi Johari, from Kampung Penad, said outsiders have been exploiting the easy going nature of his community.

He pointed out that Temiar culture dictates that the community share what they have with each other.

“Even when we hunt or fish, what we get is shared among everybody,” said Dendi, who is the Kelantan Orang Asli Youth network chairman.

Limat Belias, 35, from Kampung Sedal remembered a time where the jungle was virtually their supermarket.

Limat said everything they needed, from the bamboo to build their houses or to make blowpipes to food and medicine, could be found around them.

But extensive logging, legal or otherwise, have stripped large tracts of jungle bare.

“Now, it’s difficult to find the animals which used to be plentiful, and also edible plants,” he said.

Worse still, Limat said floods and landslides happen more often now.

These not only endanger their lives but leave orang asli villages which dot the hills surrounding Gua Musang isolated and cut-off from supplies such as fuel or non-traditional foods like cooking oil or noodles which they have now come to rely on.

The supply of fish, which is a major source of protein for the Temiar, is also dwindling out due to river pollution, also a result of the logging.

“It used to be very easy to get fish before the logging started. Now we get sick just by drinking the river water,” said Limat.

Salim Tegau, 35 from Kampung Bering, remembers a time when they would bathe in the river.

“The river is still there but the colour of the water is like teh tarik,” said Salim.

He said the areas surrounding his village now had rubber and oil palm trees, not the natural forest vegetation that used to be there. But they (rubber and palm oil plantations) don’t belong to us,” he said, adding that their staple food now were bananas, sweet potatoes and hill rice.

Herry Boy Angah, 20, from Kampung Penad, said even finding leaves for their animistic rituals are difficult and they now need to go deeper in the jungle.

He said their villagers were also much hotter now compared to before when it was so cold that cooking oil would harden overnight.

Herry said outsiders have tried to bribe villagers to allow them to log or encroach into ancestral land but they refused to accept the money.

“We now realise how important this land is for our children and grandchildren.We are prepared to defend our ancestral land,” he said.

The Star, Published: Sunday, 20 December 2015
Orang Asli’s way of life threatened
By Neville Spykerman and Charanjeet Kaur

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Religious freedom and pluralism

Religious liberty is an integral factor of American life, and has been since our nation’s founding. Indeed, many of the first European settlements in America comprised individuals and families fleeing religious persecution. Not surprisingly, this fundamental right is the “first freedom” enshrined in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution.

An essential component of religious liberty is the right of people of all faiths to participate fully in society without facing discrimination based on their religion. Religious pluralism is an American value and tradition of not merely “tolerating” religious diversity, but embracing it as a national asset, and as an opportunity to build bridges across faiths.

Each day in every state of our Union, diverse groups of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and others come together as Americans to tackle poverty, combat discrimination, and resettle and provide services to refugees fleeing persecution. Their work personifies the national motto enshrined on the Seal of the United States: E Pluribus Unum − out of many, one.

As the US ambassador to Malaysia, I have the opportunity to tell America’s story. This often includes responding to recent events.

For example, following terrorist attacks by groups, such as the Islamic State (IS) or al-Qaeda, I often hear concerns about the rights of Muslims in America.

Let me be clear: acts of violence or discrimination against Muslims are contrary to American principles and will not be tolerated. This has been and remains the policy of the US government. As President Barack Obama stated earlier this year, “Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding. Muslim Americans are part of the fabric”.

Addressing our nation following the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, Obama stated clearly that, “IS does not speak for Islam. They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death . . . (and) just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalisation, it is the responsibility of all Americans, of every faith, to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose”.

But, let us be clear: as important as religious liberty has been to America’s success as a nation, these rights do not belong solely to the American people. The freedom to choose one’s faith, change one’s faith, dissent from religion, speak publicly about one’s beliefs, gather for worship and teach one’s beliefs to one’s children are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

And indeed, it is because we so value religious freedom at home that the US Congress has mandated that the advancement of religious freedom be a US foreign policy priority, and established an Office of International Religious Freedom within the Department of State.

And, we have senior officials, such as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and the new Special Adviser for Religious Minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia, who drive our efforts in support of this inalienable right.

It is true that bigotry occurs in the US, just as it does in every corner of the globe. And understandably hateful statements often receive widespread attention. But, this is only a small part of the story.

A more accurate view of the US can be found in everyday actions that often do not make international headlines, in part because these regular interactions of tolerance and respect are not newsworthy.

This includes the numerous government officials, faith leaders, and members of civil society who have denounced discrimination and supported their fellow citizens, such as the hundreds of Christian churches that are fundraising to resettle refugees; the 1,000 American rabbis who signed a letter welcoming Syrian refugees; the American Muslim crowd-funding campaign that has raised over US$200,000 for San Bernardino victims; and perhaps most tellingly, the 7-year-old boy who donated all the money in his piggy bank to a mosque that was vandalised in Texas. This is the true story of America.

The New Straits Times, Published: 19 DECEMBER 2015 at 11:02 AM
'Islam woven into the fabric of our country' ;
Religious freedom and pluralism are enduring American values
BY JOSEPH Y. YUN, US ambassador to Malaysia
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/117997/islam-woven-fabric-our-country

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Jeffrey Frankel

How should one evaluate the agreement reached in Paris this month at the United Nations climate change conference? No sooner was the deal announced on Dec. 12 than the debate erupted.

Some avid environmentalists were disappointed that the agreement did not commit firmly to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by 2050.

But such a commitment would not have been credible. What emerged in Paris was in fact better, because the negotiators were able to agree on practical steps in the right direction. Individual countries pledged to limit their emissions in the near term, with provisions for future monitoring and periodic reviews of targets. This is far better than setting lofty goals for the distant future while giving little reason to think that they would be met. The important thing is to get started.

In four key respects, the agreement is a good one for those who regard global climate change as an important problem and want to take feasible steps to address it.

First, and most important, participation is comprehensive, with 188 countries offering individual commitments, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. In the past, only rich countries were expected to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions; developing countries were explicitly spared that within the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. That had to change, partly because it is in developing countries, not the advanced economies, that emissions are growing the fastest. Furthermore, countries like the United States would not agree to limit their emissions if they feared that carbon-emitting industry would simply migrate to developing countries.

Second, the agreement includes a process of future assessment and revision of targets. Every five years, the parties will take stock and renew the commitments. Targets can be adjusted in light of future developments to be more or less aggressive, (probably more, if the scientists’ predictions are borne out). Negotiations on the INDC revisions are to begin in 2018, even though the first set of targets is scheduled to take effect in 2020.

Third, the Paris deal takes steps toward transparency in monitoring, reporting, and verifying countries’ progress. Starting in 2023, countries are to report every five years on compliance with their emissions targets. The U.S. and Europe had to push China and India to agree to this. But without transparency, the INDCs would not be credible.

Fourth, the agreement contains mechanisms to facilitate international linkage, including scope for residents of rich countries to finance emissions reductions in poor countries. This is important because it is cheaper to pay a poor country to refrain from building new coal-fired power plants than it is to shut down an existing plant in a rich country. And achieving the first period’s INDCs at low cost will be an important determinant of countries’ willingness to take further steps in future periods.

Achieving more aggressive environmental goals, particularly limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or zero greenhouse-gas emissions in the second half of the century, would of course be desirable in terms of minimizing the risk of disaster scenarios. In fact, the first INDCs, by themselves, are nowhere near enough even to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius (the global goal that was agreed in Cancun in 2010).

But proclaiming ambitious targets is very different from achieving them. It is almost beside the point that the economic cost of pursuing a goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius would be very high. In any case, leaders can’t make credible commitments 35 years into the future. And the plan needs to be credible if it is to influence myriad business decisions made today.

Some developing-country leaders may be displeased for another reason: the figure of $100 billion in finance from rich countries does not appear in the legally binding body of the agreement. The rich countries did admit their moral responsibility to help small island states, for example, cope with “loss and damages” from sea-level rise. But they rejected demands for formal acceptance of legal liability.

This was a reasonable outcome in a difficult situation. Rich countries can’t deny that their past emissions have inflicted harm on the world. In a domestic legal system, an entity whose land was, say, flooded would have a claim to compensation from the entity that had caused the damage. But sovereign countries are not operating in such a system. The $100 billion in finance has always seemed problematic. The developing countries fear that the rich countries won’t deliver the money, at least not cash; and they are right. The rich countries fear that such “reparations” would disappear into the pockets of local elites; and they, too, are right. So it is better not to make promises.

The poor countries do have a strong case. The average American still accounts for 10 times the emissions of the average citizen of India, and India should not be deprived of the right to develop economically. But the best way to address these fairness concerns is through the agreed emissions targets. The efforts that richer countries promised should be -- and generally are -- greater than the efforts of poor countries. The richer a country is, the earlier the date at which its emissions should peak. The richer it is, the more sharply its target should cut emissions relative to the baseline. With targets that take into account their stage of development, poor countries can be paid for additional emissions cuts under the international linkage mechanisms.

In such ways, the Paris Agreement ensures both fairness and efficiency. Achieving it was a daunting challenge, and more challenges lie ahead. But the negotiators’ success in converging on a plan that offers hope of practical progress is an unambiguous triumph.

By Jeffrey Frankel
Jeffrey Frankel is professor of capital formation and growth at Harvard University.

Read more: The New Straits Times, Published: December 20, 2015
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Star Golden Hearts award

I REFER to the report “Honouring the Mount Kinabalu heroes (The Star, Dec 17).

I am the father of Prajesh, the schoolboy from Singapore, who was the worst injured survivor of the Mout Kinabalu earthquake that took place on June 5. My son was rescued at about 2pm more that six hours after the earthquake.

We are greatly indebted to the mountain guide by the name of Cornellius and his team who rescued my son on that fateful day. We really hope that Cornellius and his team could also be honoured as Mount Kinabalu heroes.

If not for Cornellius and his team, who risked their lives and went back to Via Ferrata to look for survivors, my son may not have been found. These guides are divine souls who risked their lives and went back to the affected site inspite of the many after shocks.

We are really indebted to Cornellius and his team and would also like to highlight to The Star and the Malaysian Government to recognise Cornellius and his team for saving my son.

These guides portray the true spirit of humanity and inspite of not having all the comforts in life, they show us the way a human should live.

Editor’s note:
The Mount Kinabalu Guides Association (Pemangkina) was one of the winners of the inaugural Star Golden Hearts award. Its president Richard Soibi and member Junaydie Sihan, who attended the award ceremony at Menara Star, represented Pemangkina. The association received RM30,000 from the Star Foundation.

Letter to The Star, Published : Saturday, 19 December 2015
All mountain guides are heroes

2015 The Star Golden Hearts award...

KUALA LUMPUR: Critics and even some friends have told Siti Zabedah Kasim that she is “too tough and aggressive”.

“But if I were not aggressive, I wouldn’t get things done,” argued the lawyer who fights cases for the orang asli in court and has taken their causes to heart. As one of her friends responded: “What did you expect, Snow White?”

By day, the feisty winner of one of the 10 inaugural Star Golden Hearts award works in a law firm in Kuala Lumpur. But, she has no ambition to become a partner there.

“Money is not my motivation and if I were a partner, I couldn’t do what I do,” she said. “I’m available for the orang asli whenever needed.”

For example, when the body of the first of the seven missing orang asli children from Gua Musang was found in October, Sasa Sobrie’s parents called Siti and she rushed to Kelantan.

She managed to raise about RM15,000 and channelled the money towards funeral expenses, transportation and accommodation for the orang asli families in Gua Musang.

“She really helped us with food, a place to sleep and rented transport,” said Dendi, a Temiar from Pos Simpur who is the youth chairman for Jaringan Orang Asal Kelantan and who helped in the search.

When their villages were flooded last December, the orang asli in Gua Musang also called Siti, who did a shout-out on Facebook and made the first delivery of food items and other supplies that weekend.

“The response from the public was fantastic,” she said, adding that she was “begging for a good cause”. The Bar Council paid for six lorries that carried food and clothes to the flood victims.

Siti coordinated three trips, sending in tonnes of food like dried prawns, ikan bilis, rice, Milo, tea and coffee. The second trip was with Allianz Malaysia which, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility programme, paid for the helicopters.

“When the floods hit the east coast last year, she was there to help the orang asli wherever she could, getting food to them and being very involved,” said former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan. “She is very dedicated to the cause.”

Siti’s first encounter with the orang asli was in 2010. She was a member of the Bar Council’s human rights committee and went with then president Ambiga and other committee members to Kampung Chang in Bidor, Perak.

“I stayed with the orang asli and saw how they lived,” she recalled. “I realised that many things needed to be rectified.”

Ambiga felt there were so many orang asli issues that a special committee was also needed, said Siti, and the Committee on Orang Asli Rights (COAR) was born in 2012. Siti decided she had to focus on the orang asli, becoming COAR’S deputy chairman.

COAR’s goals include creating awareness of the rights of the orang asli and empowering them, she said. “We go in, by invitation, to talk to the villagers, explain what their rights are under the law and what they can do in order to get these rights.”

The year COAR was set up, 13 Temiar protesters and Siti were arrested after they held a blockade and demonstration.

“They gathered the money for food, worked together and planned everything,” she stressed. “I only advised on their legal rights – that they might be arrested – and what to do.”

The police said she was an instigator, she remembered.

“If explaining their rights is instigation, I’m very happy to be called an instigator.” In the end, none were charged.

COAR offers free legal services to orang asli in court and is now helping with between 10 and 15 cases in Johor, Pahang and Kelantan.

Recently, Siti and fellow lawyer Roger Chan have been acting pro bono for three Temiar who were charged with rioting.

Although the response to her shout-out after the floods and for the families of the missing orang asli children was overwhelming, the lawyer has been underwhelmed by the response to her call for lawyers to volunteer free legal services for orang asli. (COAR covers the court fees.)

“We are still very short and can count on one hand the number of lawyers helping with these cases,” she said.

But Siti is hopeful about a new plan to have chambering law students work on orang asli cases for at least two weeks.

“This has been approved and will start soon,” Siti said. “It will help to make them aware of the issues.”

Like her fellow Star Golden Hearts award winners, Siti has reached out to a different community, investing her time, effort and passion.

“She has been our comrade and our lawyer in the struggle for orang asli rights,” said Dendi. “She really cares about us.”

Siti’s philosophy is summed up in the Thomas Paine quote in her Twitter profile bio: “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”

The Star, Published: Saturday, 19 December 2015
Lawyer just begging to do good
By Santha Oorjitham

KUALA LUMPUR: Their WhatsApp chat group is called “Supergirls”.

Teenagers Shirley Lee, Farhana Mohd Fadzli, Wee Tai May and Wong Hui Yu took the lead when no one dared to, and helped save the lives of a woman and her newborn son. As a result of their extraordinary feat, they have been collectively chosen as winners of the inaugural Star Golden Hearts award.

The four girls were able to work together to help deliver a baby outside the Sunway Pyramid shopping centre.

“My father taught me that if I have the opportunity to do good but I do not, it would be as bad as if I have committed a sin,” said 15-year-old Lee, who was the first of the four to see the woman on the verge of fainting outside the shopping mall in September.

The Sunway International School student asked if she needed help and discovered that the woman was suffering labour pains. Lee managed to call for an ambulance but before it could arrive, the woman’s water broke.

“She said she couldn’t wait anymore. She had to do it right there and I trusted her instincts,” Lee said.

Farhana, 18, Wee, 18 and Wong, 19, who were all passing by, rushed to her aid.

In less than five minutes, Lee was holding a crying baby in her hands.

“It was really smooth,” she said, describing the delivery.

The girls tied the baby’s umbilical cord with a shoelace before Farhana held him against his mother’s stomach.

They were faced with another problem when the placenta became stuck and the mother was bleeding heavily.

Wong, who said she had seen cadavers during her pre-university course, was not squeamish at the sight of blood and tried to stem the bleeding.

The rest held the woman’s hands and kept her from fainting until the ambulance finally arrived 40 minutes later.

The experience inspired Wong, a Public Service Department scholar, to study medicine.

Before this, she had doubts about taking up medicine. “I kept thinking maybe I do not have the ability to help or maybe I cannot be a good doctor,” she confessed.

She is now determined to be a doctor “no matter how hard it is. I must study medicine so that next time, when I encounter these situations, I can cope better,” she said.

The experience created a special bond among the girls who were total strangers to each other before it happened.

Every morning, they send each other greetings via their “Supergirls” chat group as well as reminders not to take the things they love in life for granted.

When asked whether they believe others would show the same courage in a similar situation, all answered “yes” without hesitation.

The experience, Farhana said, taught her that everyone, not only Malaysians, should help each other irrespective of race or religion.

“It is about humanity. We have to help each other out,” she said.

The girls found themselves in the media spotlight after a posting about them went viral on Facebook.

Wee, who did not expect the media attention, confessed to having mixed feelings.

“I felt a bit sad,” she said. “Did it get so much attention because Malaysians do not believe others would help another person this much?”

The girls said their parents were incredulous when they were told of the incident.

Farhana said her mother only believed her after noticing the blood stains on her trousers while Wee’s friends and family thought she was pulling their leg until they saw the story in the newspapers the next day.

The teens all agree the incident taught them the beauty of a crisis was that everyone involved could discard any preconceived notions about each other and work together.

“It is not about whether you know each other. In that moment, it was whether you were willing to put down your ego and go for the same goal,” said Wong.

The girls later found out that the mother was Siow Huey Quin, 35, an accountant.

The father, Kee Hoo Beng, 40, was extremely grateful to the four of them for their help.

He named his son Kee Sun Way in memory of the 1Malaysia spirit which surrounded the child’s birth.

Lee, Wong, Farhana and Wee met once more during the baby’s full moon party in October.

The Star, Published: Sunday, 20 December 2015
'Supergirls' who delivered
By Adrian Chan

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Ruben Sario

KOTA KINABALU: Three Sabahans who helped in the resistance movement against the Japanese Occu-pa-tion forces in Malaya during World War II have finally received due recognition.

The three – former Sandakan schoolmates Datuk Chin Phui Kong, Liang Shi Ming and the late Ho Su Shen – were awarded Taiwan’s Gold Medal award for their bravery and sacrifice during the war.

They were presented with the medals and certificates by Tai-wan’s Chief Secretary of Overseas Community Affairs Council Chang Liang-Ming during a simple ceremony here recently.

The 92-year-old Chin, former Sabah Fisheries Department director, told The Star that the award came as a pleasant surprise as not many knew of their involvement in Force 136 of the resistance movement against the Japanese imperial army.

He, Liang and Ho completed their junior middle school studies at the Chung Hwa school in Sandakan and went on to Guangzhou in China to continue their studies there in 1941.

“The Pacific War broke out and in 1944, several of my classmates and I were recruited in Chongqing and we were sent to India and Sri Lanka for military training under the Force 136 command,” he said in an interview at his Likas Bay house.

Commissioned as a lieutenant in Force 136’s Dragon Six unit, Wong was also trained as a paratrooper and a demolition expert.

He, along with Liang and Ho, the father of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) deputy secretary-general Datuk Ho Jia Lit, were flown for 12 hours from India and parachuted behind enemy lines in Malaya in 1945.

“We were assigned to train the Malaya People Anti Japanese Army (MPAJA) guerillas. When I landed in Bidor, Perak, I found myself at the camp of resistance leader Chin Peng,” he said.

(Chin Peng eventually led the Communist Party of Malaya and died in exile in Thailand on Sept 16, 2013).

When the war ended with the Japanese surrender several months later, Chin headed back to China to continue studying at Xiamen Uni-ver-sity in Xiamen.

He returned to Sabah and joined the Fisheries Department in 1950 and continued serving there until his retirement in 1978.

The Star, Published: Friday, 18 December 2015
Taiwan honours Sabahan war heroes
By Ruben Sario

Another news from Kota Kinabalu :

KOTA KINABALU: For the Mount Kinabalu guides, no sacrifice is too great.

Robbi Sapinggi and Joseph Solungin were fine examples of great men who gave up their lives to rescue others. They will be especially remembered for their selfless acts during the June 5 earthquake which claimed 18 lives.

On the fateful day, Robbi and Joseph were among over 130 climbers and guides descending from the summit when boulders and rocks came tumbling down the mountainside.

Some rocks hit 30-year-old Robbi, injuring his head and body. He stumbled and fell but shouted to the climbers to “keep going”.

Robbi managed to free himself from the waist-deep rocks but by the time rescuers reached him 10 hours later, he had died.

The remains of Joseph were found much later. From his posture, it appeared that he had tried to protect two other climbers who also died in the avalanche.

The sacrifices of both men, who were members of the Mount Kinabalu Guides Association (Pemangkina), did not go unnoticed.

The association was honoured with one of the 10 inaugural Star Golden Hearts awards.

“Robbi and Joseph symbolise what we are – that no sacrifice is too great to protect the people we’re responsible for,” said Pemangki-na president Richard Soibi, who was in Bundu Tuhan nearby when the earthquake struck.

Meanwhile, at the Kinabalu Park headquarters, 40 mountain guides were getting ready to escort climbers up the mountain.

“I asked them (the guides) to trek up to Panar Laban to check out the trail and see if they could help bring down those who were stranded,” said Richard.

Richard went up with his team in the afternoon. Upon reaching Panar Laban, he found that the trail to the summit was blocked.

After several failed attempts to rescue victims with helicopters due to strong winds, the stranded climbers managed to make their way down the blocked trail with the guidance of Sabah Parks ranger Mithunjay Langgim.

Other mountain guides who raced to Panar Laban earlier managed to bring down some of the injured that same afternoon.

This was poignantly captured in a photo of bandana-clad mountain guide Mohd Rizuan Kauhinin, who carried injured Singa-porean student El Wafeeq El Jauzy, 12, on his back for over 1km down the mountain trail.

Widely circulated on social media, it became the iconic symbol of the mountain guides’ heroism following the earthquake.

Richard said one of the most difficult tasks for the guides was picking up the remains of those crushed by the rocks and boulders.

“It was tough but it was something we had to do as guides,” said Richard, who leads the association of 250 licensed mountain guides, most of whom are local Dusun from Kampung Kiau, Bundu Tuhan and Kundasang.

“From young, Dusun people are taught to care for their neighbours and that helping others is the honourable thing to do.”

He said the association appreciated the Sabah government’s decision to raise their fees from RM180 to RM230 and to provide them with life and disability insurance.

“Our wish now is to see a memorial being erected at the Kinabalu Park to remember those who died,” he added.

The Star, Published: Friday, 18 December 2015
Honouring Mt Kinabalu heroes
By Ruben Sario

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Ban Ki-Moon

Mr Yahoo is happy to read the following comment in today's New Straits Times. The writer is Mr Ban Ki-Moon, secretary general of the United Nations :

SEVENTY years ago, the United Nations was created from the ashes of the Second World War. Seven decades later, in Paris, nations have united in the face of another threat − the threat to life as we know it due to a rapidly warming planet.

Governments have ushered in a new era of global cooperation on climate change − one of the most complex issues ever to confront humanity. In doing so, they have significantly advanced efforts to uphold our Charter mandate to “save succeeding generations”.

The Paris Agreement is a triumph for people, the environment, and for multilateralism. It is a health insurance policy for the planet. For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb their emissions, strengthen resilience and act internationally and domestically to address climate change.

Together, countries have agreed that, in minimising risks of climate change, the national interest is best served by pursuing the common good. I believe it is an example we could gainfully follow across the political agenda.

The victory in Paris caps a remarkable year. From the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, from the historic Sustainable Development Summit in New York to the climate conference in Paris, this has been a year in which the United Nations has proven its ability to deliver hope and healing to the world.

Since my first days in office, I have called climate change the defining challenge of our time. That is why I have made it a top priority of my tenure. I have spoken with nearly every world leader about the threat climate change poses to our economies, our security and our very survival. I have visited every continent and met communities living on the climate frontlines.

I have been moved by suffering and inspired by the solutions that will make our world safer and more prosperous.

I have participated in every United Nations climate conference. The three Climate Summits I convened mobilised political will and catalysed innovative action by governments, businesses and civil society. The Paris Action Agenda, along with the commitments made at last year’s Climate Summit, show that the answers are there.

What was once unthinkable is now unstoppable. The private sector is already investing increasingly in a low-emissions future. The solutions are increasingly affordable and available, and many more are poised to come, especially after the success of Paris.

The Paris Agreement delivered on all the key points I called for. Markets now have the clear signal they need to scale up investments that will generate low-emissions, climate-resilient development.

All countries have agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2o Celsius and, given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5o Celsius. This is especially important for the nations of Africa, Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.

In Paris, countries agreed on a long-term goal to cap global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible in the second half of the century. One hundred and eighty-eight countries have now submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, which show what they are prepared to do to reduce emissions and build climate resilience.

Currently, these national targets have already significantly bent the emissions curve downwards. But, collectively, they still leave us with an unacceptably dangerous 3o Celsius temperature rise. That is why countries in Paris pledged that they will review their national climate plans every five years, beginning in 2018. This will allow them to increase ambition in line with what science demands.

The Paris Agreement also ensures sufficient, balanced adaptation and mitigation support for developing countries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. And it will help to scale up global efforts to address and minimise loss and damage from climate change.

Governments have agreed to binding, robust, transparent rules of the road to ensure that all countries do what they have said they would do. Developed countries have agreed to lead in mobilising finance and to scale up technology support and capacity building. And developing countries have assumed increasing responsibility to address climate change in line with their capabilities.

In acknowledging this historic achievement, I would be remiss if I did not recognise the leadership and vision of the business community and civil society. They have highlighted both the stakes and the solutions. I salute them for their outstanding display of climate citizenship.

Now, with the Paris Agreement in place, our thoughts must immediately turn to implementation. By addressing climate change we are advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Paris Agreement has positive implications for all the Sustainable Development Goals. We are poised to enter a new era of opportunity.

As governments, businesses and civil society begin the mammoth project of tackling climate change and realising the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations will assist member states and society at large at every stage. As a first step in implementing the Paris Agreement, I will convene, as requested by the Agreement and by the Convention, a high-level signing ceremony in New York, on April 22, next year.

I will invite world leaders to come to help keep and increase momentum. By working together, we can achieve our shared objective to end poverty, strengthen peace, and ensure a life of dignity and opportunity for all.

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/117805/new-era-opportunity

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Malala Yousafzai

The Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai has condemned Donald Trump’s views on Muslims as she attended a sombre ceremony to remember the 134 children killed in a Taliban attack on a Pakistani school a year ago.

“Well that’s really tragic that you hear these comments which are full of hatred, full of this ideology of being discriminative towards others,” said Malala, who lives in the UK, in response to recent comments by the US Republican presidential candidate.

Trump has been heavily criticised for calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the US after a Muslim husband and wife shot and killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in an incident classified as a terrorist act.

Speaking at the ceremony in Birmingham, Malala’s father Ziauddin Yousafzai also criticised Trump’s comments.

“It will be very unfair, very unjust that we associate 1.6 billion with a few terrorist organisations,” he said, referring to the number of Muslims worldwide.

The event was organised by peace prize winner Malala and her family. Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 after she had publicly advocated education for girls.

On 16 December 2014 nine extremists scaled the walls of an army-run school in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar, throwing grenades and opening fire on terrified children and teachers.

“There are these terrorist attacks happening, for example what happened in Paris or what happened in Peshawar a year ago,” Malala said, referring to last month’s Islamic State attack in Paris that killed 130 people.

“If we want to end terrorism we need to bring quality education so we defeat the mindset of the terrorism mentality and of hatred.”

Agence France-Presse in Birmingham
Wednesday 16 December 2015 07.18 GMT
Donald Trump's Muslim views 'tragic and full of hatred', says Malala Yousafzai :
Nobel prize winner and girls’ education advocate, who survived Taliban attempt to kill her, criticises Republican’s call to ban Muslims entering US


Please refer to the following :
Voice of America, Last updated on: December 16, 2015 11:42 AM
Republicans Clash on National Security in Feisty Debate
By William Gallo

Also please refer to the article posted on 16 December 2015 by BBC :

Mr Trump was on the defensive early in the debate for his proposed ban on Muslims entering the US, saying, "We are not talking about religion, we are talking about security."

However the debate quickly expanded to broader issues of foreign policy and national security.

The candidates repeatedly addressed heightened fears of terrorism in the US on the same day an emailed threat shut down Los Angeles' school system...

Mr Trump loomed large over the so-called undercard debate, with the four candidates split over the efficacy of his proposed ban.

Senator Lindsey Graham apologised to US-allied Muslim leaders saying: "I am sorry. He does not represent us".

Democrats debate on Saturday night, and both parties will hold debates in January.

The state-by-state primary contests in the presidential election begin in six weeks in Iowa on 1 February and will last for months.

Each party will formally nominate their candidate over the summer, with Hillary Clinton the favourite to win the Democratic nomination.

Americans will finally go to the polls in November, and the newly elected president will assume office in late January of 2017.

Republican candidates clash over how to counter IS

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Marina Mahathir

Today Mr Yahho has been so happy when he read the article in the Star:

Many think it means the right to absolute freedom rather than basic rights such as the right to life, to dignity, to a nationality, to education and to work.

Occasionally you get a request from someone from a country so new to you that you can’t resist agreeing to a meeting. That was how I sat down today with a young PhD candidate from Estonia to chat about our two countries.

Admittedly I had to begin by asking him where Estonia was. It is a tiny country neighbouring Finland and Latvia in eastern Europe with only about 1.3 million people, less than the population of KL.

We are both interested in the issue of human rights in our countries and noted many similarities, particularly in misunderstandings of what human rights means.

In Estonia, much as in Malaysia, people think that human rights means the right to absolute freedom rather than the very basic rights that all human beings should enjoy, such as the right to life, to dignity, to a nationality, to education and to work, among others.

Those who argue against human rights think that it means people have the right to walk naked in public or to take drugs or some other anti-social behaviour.

Without proper education on what human rights actually is, both Estonians and Malaysians have the same negative perceptions about it.

Estonians and Malaysians also seem to have similar attitudes towards migrant workers and refugees. Being part of the European Union, Estonians are able to work without much difficulty anywhere in Europe.

At the same time there is a huge debate there on whether to let Syrian refugees in based on as yet unfounded fears such as that they will take jobs away from Estonians. Given that Estonia is only slated to take in 300 refugees out of the hundreds of thousands washing up on European shores, the fears seem to be exaggerated, possibly by politicians out to make a quick vote.

What is more, Estonia is hardly the first choice of any migrant worker from other parts of the world.

Indeed, research showed that people who leave the country for jobs elsewhere outnumber those who come into the country for any reason by some 25,000.

Equally puzzling is the proposed ban of the hijab and niqab (face-covering) by the Estonian government.

Considering that their Muslim population is only about 1000-strong, most of whose women wear neither the hijab nor the niqab, one has to wonder about the logic of this proposed ban.

Some of the advocates of the ban said that while there is no need for it now, it was necessary to have it to prevent the so-called future influx of hijabed and niqabed women, presumably among the 300 refugees they are taking in.

Isn’t it wondrous that politicians everywhere practise the same kind of logic?

If one were a student of the illogicality of politicians, one would have had a wealth of material last weekend.

There was the fellow who, obviously thinking himself very original, declared that the uniforms our national airline’s female flight attendants have worn for the last 30 years are in fact “Jewish” designs and therefore should be abolished.

Considering that these uniforms were designed by the UiTM School of Fashion, this seems a rather awkward accusation to make. Besides, I don’t know many Jewish women who wear the sarong kebaya.

Then there was the fellow who said our leader is appointed by God. And since God makes no mistakes, our leader cannot be bad or wrong.

It makes you wonder why they even have elections for their leaders. Why not just wait for a giant arrow from above to point out the Right Guy, preferably accompanied by a bright light and some Arabic music?

I am just waiting for the day when the Arrow suddenly alights on the head of the Right Girl. Then all hell will break loose and they will decide that elections are still the best way because then you can fix it to pick the Right Guy.

After a whole convention baying for race and religion, one of our leaders then asks Muslims to show that Islam is a religion of peace in order to counter Islamophobia. He must have gone to the same school as right-wing Estonian politicians.

Apparently, when you say nasty things about other people and faiths, that is a peaceful act. It is only when you take up arms against them, that you’re not being peaceful and should be arrested and incarcerated.

In the former act, you are merely exercising your human rights while in the latter, you’re just being unsociable and even crazy.

Meanwhile in the real world, Jews in the United States are protesting against Islamophobia, Muslim Palestinians are donning Santa Claus outfits and singing carols along with their Christian friends and Germany is taking in 300,000 Syrian refugees.

I am looking forward to roast turkey, mince pies, peace on earth and goodwill to all humankind.

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Star, Published: Thursday, 17 December 2015
Misunderstanding the meaning of human rights
By Marina Mahathir

Marina Mahathir is a human rights activist who works on women, children and HIV/AIDS issues. The views expressed here are entirely her own.

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Save the planet! Its now or never!!!

FINALLY, after more than two decades of dilly-dallying and governments squabbling over responsibility and costs, the world has a new deal to tackle climate change.

This is the historic Paris Agreement, the outcome from the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which 195 nations have committed to and which was hailed by US President Barack Obama as “the best chance we’ve had to save the one planet that we’ve got”.

Actually, the danger posed by greenhouse gas emissions was already known 50 years ago. But the United Nations only organised its first Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. It was such a big deal that even The Star sent a reporter to the other side of the globe at great expense to cover it.

Strangely enough, no Malaysian media company sent reporters to cover the Paris summit, despite its importance, and the reported presence of a 70-strong Malaysian delegation led by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

While we were not apprised of our delegation’s contributions, what we do know is for the first time the United States, China and India were leading players in hammering out the legally binding treaty.

This was unlike their stance in previous climate summits which had exempted developing nations like India and China, a situation that angered the US which refused to commit to reducing its emissions for fear of hurting American businesses and the American way of life. (Think Texas, supersizing and gas-guzzlers.)

But the problem with international treaties is that no country can force another to do anything. That we know well from our years of suffering the haze coming out of Indonesia!

As Columbia University economist Scott Barrett, as quoted by marketplace.org, says: “You can negotiate an agreement to tell countries what they need to do. But countries don’t need to sign it. Or they can sign it and not ratify it. Or they could ratify it and not implement it. Or they could not implement it and withdraw from it.”

That was what tripped up previous climate pacts. The 1992 UNFCCC was voluntary which obviously didn’t work. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 was legally binding but was likened by critics to setting a speed limit with no fines.

This time around, things were different: the effects of climate change and rising temperatures are everywhere: in America, the amount of snow in Sierra Nevada that provides drinking water for a third of California has diminished drastically.

In China, scientists have recorded the alarming rate the country’s glaciers are melting and retreating. Permafrost is losing its permanence. This has resulted in twin disasters of drought and floods. While there is lower volume of water in the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers’ downstream areas, from 2008 to 2010, 62% of Chinese cities experienced floods as glacial lakes overflowed.

The weather has gone wild and scary and this year is set to be the hottest year in recorded history, easily surpassing last year which was the previous record-holder.

So in Paris, the US and China, the two largest carbon emitters, knew they had to act. Small island nations like Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, that are most vulnerable to rising sea levels, also fought hard for ambitious targets.

Among the key outcomes of the Paris Agreement is the commitment to cut greenhouse gases in order to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C while ideally striving to keep it to below 1.5°C. The aim is that by 2050 or so, man-made emissions should be reduced to a level that can be absorbed by the oceans and forests.

The governments of the participating nations must now ratify the agreement and put in place policies and strategies to cut emissions.

They have four years to do so as the Paris Agreement is to take effect in 2020.

This seems like more precious time being wasted but as New York Times writer Justin Gillis states: “The planet is under threat from human emissions and the Paris climate deal is, at best, a first step toward fixing the problem. Some of the consequences of an overheated planet might be avoided, or at least slowed, if the climate deal succeeds in reducing emissions. At the least, by requiring regular reviews, the deal lays a foundation for stronger action in the future.”

We can only hope that the 195 governments won’t revert to old behaviour. If I could, I would send a copy of National Geographic’s climate issue last month to all of them.

What needs to be done and can be done to save the future is meticulously researched and presented in no uncertain terms in this issue aptly headlined: “Cool it”.

The opening pages state: Climate change is here. How can we power the planet without making things worse?

That sums it up very neatly. Our modern world gobbles up power which comes mainly from carbon emitting fossil fuels. We need to wean ourselves from such fuels and find other energy sources.

And there are effective alternatives: solar and wind. Germany’s aggressive strategy to generate electricity from such renewables which has 92% of its citizens’ support, despite the high cost attached to it, can be a model to the world, writes National Geographic.

It adds that solar power can also work in the developing world where 1.1 billion people have no access to electricity.

After the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, Germany became increasingly anti-nuclear but it took the Fukushima disaster 25 years later for the German government to make the critical decision to shut down all its nuclear plants by 2022.

That is a lesson I hope our Government will pay heed to. It has set itself a target of reducing greenhouse gas emission by 45% by 2030...

I join the anti-nuclear lobby to urge our Government to ensure the "actions in the energy" sector does not include nuclear power plants...

I can only hope it happenes for all our children and thier childrens' sake.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015, The Star
So Aunty, So What? By June Wong
Saving the planet, it’s now or never!

In addition to the above, please refer to the following comments:

* Comment by Frank Ching:
US, China ties key to climate solution;
Paria deal possible because the 2 superpowers are willing to work together

Wednesday, December 16, 2015, New Straits Times

* The Star Says:
Let's play our part against global warming
Wednesday 16 December 2015, The Star

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COP 21

With the ink barely dry on a landmark climate accord, nations now face an even more daunting challenge: how to get their industries to go along.

If nothing else, analysts and experts say, the accord is a signal to businesses and investors that the era of carbon reduction has arrived.

It will spur banks and investment funds to shift their loan and stock portfolios from coal and oil to the growing industries of renewable energy like wind and solar.

Utilities themselves will have to reduce their reliance on coal and more aggressively adopt renewable sources of energy. Energy and technology companies will be pushed to make breakthroughs to make better and cheaper batteries that can store energy for use when it is needed. And automakers will have to develop electric cars that win broader acceptance in the marketplace.

“It’s very hard to go backward from something like this,” said Nancy Pfund, managing partner of DBL Partners, a venture capital firm that focuses on social, environmental and economic development. “People are boarding this train, and it’s time to hop on if you want to have a thriving, 21st-century economy.”

Wall Street is clearly paying attention.

Top executives from Bank of America, Citibank and Goldman Sachs dropped by the Paris talks or related side events, as did philanthropist business leaders like Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Chief executives of blue-chip companies like Coca-Cola, DuPont, General Mills, HP and Unilever all expressed support for an ambitious deal.

On Twitter on Saturday night, BP, the British oil giant, called the Paris agreement a “landmark climate change deal” and pledged to be “a part of the solution.” In June, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total called for a tax on carbon emissions, saying it would reduce uncertainty and help oil and gas companies figure out the future.

“The policy developed from these commitments will bring better market certainty to investors and open up significant opportunities,” Jack Ehnes, chief executive of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, said last week.

But not all business representatives embraced the accord and resistance to new policies appears inevitable. “The Paris climate conference delivered more of the same − lots of promises and lots of issues still left unresolved,” Stephen D. Eule of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a statement, noting that the agreement is not legally binding.

DEC. 13, 2015, New York Times
Climate Deal Is Signal to Industry: The Era of Carbon Reduction Is Here
By Clifford Krauss and Keith Bradsher

Knottingley, England - The last deep-pit coal mine in the U.K. plans to shut its doors here last week, heralding the end of a centuries-old industry that helped fuel the idustiral revolution and build the British Empire.

Thr shutdown represents a victory for avdvocates of reduction carbon emissions even before world leaders reached a landmark agreement in Paris over the weekend. It also reflects a glut of energy on world markets, from crude oil to natural gas and coal itself.

Coal mines have been closing around the world in the past years, from the U.S. to South Africa to the U.K. as prices plunged. But in no country has the industry witnessed such a dramatic fall from grace as in the U.K., where coal productuion was once seen as the backbone of the nation's indusctial economy, the fuel for everything from steamboats to power plants.

George Orwell, in his 1937 book, "The Road to Wigan Pier," wrote : "Our civilisation ... is founded on ciaol."

No longer...

Tuesday, December 15, 2015, The Wall Street Journal
No More Coal From Depths in U.K.
By Scott Patterson

Paris - Governments have signalled an end to the fossil fuel era, committing for the first time to a universal agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change.

After 20 years of fraught meetings, including the past two weeks spent in an exhibition hall on the outskirts of Paris, negotiators from nearly 200 countries signed on to a legal agreement on Saturday evening that set ambitious goals to limit temperature rises and to hold governments to account for reaching those targets.

Government and business leaders said the agreement, which set a new goal to reach net zero emissions in the second half of the century, sent a powerful signal to global markets, hastening the transition away from fossil fuels and to a clean energy economy.

The deal was carefully constructed to carry legal force but without requiring approval by the US Congress - which would have almost certainly rejected it.

After last-minute delays, caused by typos, mistranslations and disagreements over a single verb in the highly complicated legal text, Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, brought down a special leaf-shaped gavel to adopt the agreement. The hall erupted in applause and cheers. “It is a small gavel but I think it can do a great job,” Fabius said.

Saturday 12 December 2015 17.19 GMT, The Guardian
COP 21: UN climate change conference
Paris climate deal: nearly 200 nations sign in end of fossil fuel era
Two decades of talks have come to this: an ambitious agreement to hold states to emissions targets – but already low-lying countries are worried
By Suzanne Goldenberg, John Vidal, Lenore Taylor, Adam Vaughan and Fiona Harvey

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Hong Kong

Mr Yahho is sitting down in the corner of Free Internet services at Hong Kong International Airport. Now the local time is fifteen minutes before 2 pm;

Mow I am in the International Airport to transfer the flight bound to Penang, Malaysia. It's cloudy.Today I am so sleepy that I might disturb the neighbour in the train to Narita Airort and I slept for a while both in the waiting lounge and even in the airplane. I slept at 11:00 PM last night to write up the draft paper to the Newsletter issued by our alumni society.I added the season's greetings to my old friends. To be continued from Penang. Ciao and bye for now!

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2014年10月11日 もちださんの鎌倉リポート No.59

















平曲(正調平家琵琶)弾き語り奏者 荒尾努
 NHK総合テレビ「探検ロマン世界遺産」やWOWOW「美術のゲノム」などにも出演、映画「禅 ZEN」で琵琶演奏を担当するなどメディアでも活躍中。



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☆ 2015年11月28日「2015錦秋」
☆ 2015年12月07日「鷹取山139m」







 品川駅「ポンパドウル ウイング高輪店(POMPADOUR)」で打ち上げ。







posted by fom_club at 21:23| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする







 このころ、自民、公明、民主の3党が12年に合意したとおり、15年 10月に消費税率を8%から10%に引き上げるかどうか、安倍の決断に注目が集まっていた。


70年目の首相 アベノミクス:14)痛みなき財政再建に「警告」







浜矩子氏が警鐘 「アベノミクスは極限的ファシズム経済学」





嶋矢志郎 [ジャーナリスト]アベノミクスの矢がいつまでも的外れな「本当の理由」

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「駆け付け警護」先送り 自衛隊初の犠牲者に怯える安倍政権









国立大授業料、54万円が93万円に 2031年度試算

 じゃあ、奨学金? イマはもう、育英会ってないんだそうで…






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 ペーパーにはタヌキのかわいらしいイラストとともに、「自衛官等募集中!!」「自衛隊 滋賀で検索」「お気軽にお問合せください!」などと書かれてある。一見すると、何か軽いバイト募集のような錯覚を受けてしまうから、たちが悪い。

トンデモ勧誘発覚 中学のトイレットペーパーに「自衛官募集」


 さて、今回は安保関連法成立を受け、根本から任務が変わった自衛隊について書きたい。というのも、法案成立直後、ある本を読み、非常に衝撃を受けたからだ。それは『自衛隊のリアル』 (河出書房新社)。著者は防衛大学校を卒業後、毎日新聞の記者となった瀧野隆浩氏。長年にわたる取材を通して、自衛隊の変化を非常に丁寧に追っているのだが、中でも私がもっとも衝撃を受けたのは、イラク派遣の際、自衛隊は「死の制度化」を完了した、という事実だ。




 いや、「運がある」とか、そういう問題じゃないから! そう突っ込みたくなるのは私だけではないだろう。







宜野湾市長 佐喜眞淳様  
監視社会ならん!市民ネット沖縄 代表世話人 上江洲由美子



2015-12-10 22:13:00 海鳴りの島から沖縄・ヤンバルより…目取真俊

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TOKYO (AFP): Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed Tuesday to prevent terrorism at home and make Japan the world’s safest country as a new unit was launched to collect and analyse information on global attacks.

The beheading of two Japanese earlier this year, claimed by the Islamic State group, and the death of 10 others in a hostage crisis in Algeria in 2013 have highlighted the vulnerability of Japanese people abroad.

The country is also making a point of showing that it is increasing security as it prepares to host the next G7 summit in May as well as the summer Olympics in 2020.
“We will strongly push preventive measures against terrorism,” Abe told a meeting of ministers.

“I would like you to do your best to make Japan the safest country in the world.”
Abe added: “With the summit and Olympics ahead, our country must take all possible measures with a sense of crisis.”

The unit is made up of about 20 personnel in Tokyo with about another 20 based in Japanese diplomatic missions abroad and concentrated on four areas: Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and North and West Africa.

Koichi Oizumi, a professor at Japan’s Aomori Chuo Gakuin University and an expert on international terrorism, called its geographical limitations a weakness.

“Collecting information is a first step but analysing it is a different story,” Oizumi told AFP, adding that Japan is weak at intelligence, threat assessment in particular.

“It is no surprise if Japan can be a target of terrorism in the case of major events such as the G7 and the Olympics,” he added.

“Now, terrorism can happen anywhere around the world.”

Japan has taken other steps in recent years to upgrade its intelligence-gathering capability, including launching satellites to monitor North Korea, which has carried out nuclear tests and routinely threatens Japan.

8 December 2015 at 4:14 PM, New Straits Times
Abe vows to prevent terrorism in Japan as information unit launched





◆ アラブの街路の歓喜

◆ 中東学者の見る偏見


◆ 戦争とテロの犠牲者と

週のはじめに考える 9・11からパリ・テロへ



捜査当局の厳重チェックも限界 専門家が指摘




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引きこもり 悩み共有
向き合う/陸前高田市広田小・元校長 佐々木善仁さん




きっかけは1枚の書き置き 三陸の文化財、東京で展示会



■ 震災後、車庫に積み上げられていた図書館の資料

2015年3月11日14時21分 JST 更新、ハフィントンポスト【3.11】
「高所へ逃げろ」と書かれた陸前高田市立図書館の本がたどった運命 地域の歴史を忘れず、伝えるために


前川さおり「文化財レスキューと遠野 ― 遠野市立博物館と遠野文化研究センターの取り組み The rescue operations for cultural heritages in Tono Museum ―」参照

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「学問よ 負けるな!」



■ 京大有志の会「声明書」全文








■ 「若いうちは、まずは行動することが大事」



■ 「軍事的なものに加担しないという原点」



安保法案東京大学人緊急シンポジウム開催 「東大は70年前の戦争に加担した」


 日時: 2015年12月9日(水)18:45〜20:45
 場所: 東京大学駒場キャンパス5号館525教室
 対談: 大澤真幸氏(社会学者、元京大教授)✕ 市野川容孝(社会学者、本学教授、本実行委員会呼びかけ人)
 主催: 安保法案東京大学人緊急抗議集会・アピール実行委員会

「安保法案 東京大学人緊急抗議集会・アピール」実行委員会



■ 3年間の実績も問われ……




posted by fom_club at 21:15| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする













(2015/12/07 22:55更新)



堤未果: TPPの「透明性の章」と関係するんですが、貿易条約で言う「透明性」は利害関係者を決定プロセスに参加させる、という意味。

 ▽ 皆保険維持のために薬価は全額自己負担
 ▽ 自己負担率を8割に引き上げ
 ▽ 診療報酬の引き下げ――。



堤未果: 大阪だけではすみません。

▽ つつみ・みか 1971年、東京生まれ。NY市立大学大学院修士号取得。国連、証券会社などに勤務。「報道が教えてくれないアメリカ弱者革命」で黒田清日本ジャーナリスト会議新人賞。「ルポ 貧困大国アメリカ」で日本エッセイスト・クラブ賞、新書大賞。「政府は必ず嘘をつく」で早稲田大学理事長賞。近著に「沈みゆく大国 アメリカ」(2部作)。

ジャーナリスト堤未果氏 「国民皆保険の切り崩しは始まっています」



TPP全文公開 「思っていたよりもっと悪い内容」と批評家



★ "A Very Big Mistake": Joseph Stiglitz Slams Obama for Pushing the TPP

★ カナダの新聞論調です:

The intellectual-property provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will drive up global drug prices and make it harder to treat diseases in developing countries, Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) says.

A month after the final text of the TPP was released, the medical humanitarian organization has completed its analysis of the portions of the massive trade pact that will affect drug costs. Despite changes from earlier leaked versions of the text, there are still serious problems, Judit Rius, MSF’s U.S. legal policy adviser, said.

“This is catastrophic. This is very negative. The impact is going to be at multiple levels,” Ms. Rius said in an interview. “First of all, it is going to delay access to generic competition [for brand-name drugs], which is a proven intervention to reduce the price of medicines.”

For generic drug makers, she said, the TPP will create additional legal barriers that will get in the way of making new products, and that will stunt the industry.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will actually raise drug prices, especially in developing countries, Judit Rius, MSF’s U.S. legal policy adviser says...

Trans-Pacific Partnership
Drug prices expected to rise as result of TPP deal
Richard Blackwell
The Globe and Mail
Last updated Sunday, Dec. 06, 2015 11:17PM EST

posted by fom_club at 09:28| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする



 11月5日土曜日は浅草橋駅近くの中華屋さん「広東料理 福臨門(ふくりんもん)」(台東区柳橋1-13-4丹羽ビル1F 電話3863-0363)。





森林を愛す −土砂災害を防ぐには−
(平成25年度「土砂災害防止に関する絵画・作文」作文中学生の部 優秀賞(国土交通省事務次官賞)



 学名:Dahlia imperialis





 打ち上げは京急田浦駅近くの中華屋さん「広東料理 隆昌(りゅうしょう)」(横須賀市船越町1-47-1 電話 046-874-8278)。


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横川善正(金沢美術工芸大名誉教授)「TPP 抜けた視点」 











■ 政治家は誰も読んでいない?




許していいのか TPP合意文書「日本語訳」がない驚愕

 え? wが国では、「大筋合意」と言っておきながら、隠したがり屋のヒ・ミ・ツ主義、官僚や政党、御用学者はさておいても、どのマスコミも、どのNGOも、だれも問題点、国益にけしてならないと思われる点、疑問点って明らかにされていないの?





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2014.08.13 上智大学「20世紀東アジアをめぐる人の移動と社会統合」
研究協力者 安岡健一さん(1979年 神戸市生まれ、飯田市歴史研究所)による著書の紹介です。








★ 奨励賞
◆飯田市歴史研究所(長野県飯田市上郷飯沼3145 電話0265-53-4670)



(編集責任者 森武麿)









posted by fom_club at 08:19| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | 日記 | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする





★ 2014年8月2日付け「Massacre or Genocide」
★ 2014年8月7日付け「Lessons from Hiroshima for Gaza」
★ 2014年8月8日付け「No McDonald’s Day」

★ 「永井隆博士」
★ 「Malaysia in UNSC seat」
★ 「Angelina Jolie」











土井邦敏 Web コラム
















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中国残留邦人認定で勝訴 母が残した手紙、出生の証しに






中国残留邦人、一審覆し認定 東京高裁判決









2015/11/21 信濃毎日新聞
中国残留日本人の救済 満州移民の経過 敗戦までに27万人 長野県は全国最多


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 親と子のあいだの「いのち」のやりとりを藤原ていは『新版 流れる星は生きている』でこんなふうに表現しています:








 もうお一方、「女優が見た戦争〜女優 赤木春恵さん(1924年生まれ)に聞く戦争のリアル」から:


雨宮処凛(あまみや かりん、1975年北海道生まれ)『14歳からの戦争のリアル』(河出書房新社、2015年7月)所収、236頁




七十七銀訴訟 津波犠牲 賠償認めず

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2013年7月27日 at 11:17投稿、まほろばBlog

 必読の「解説」は、加藤聖文(かとう きよふみ、1966年愛知県生まれ、現在国文学研究資料館・准教授)。













三多摩商店街連合会長 深沢靖彦さん(73)
満州引き揚げ 人生の原点


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私の半生流転の記 宮城県 高橋武 









■ 樺太から一家で海を越え

戦後70年 北海道【第1部 ひと・まち】(3)引き揚げ者





天木直人のブルグ Posted on 2015年12月1日

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