2016年01月31日

ゴリラ語

 ヤッホー君のこのブログ、2016年01月28日付け日記「ジャングルウォーキング」ご参照ください。
 マレーシアの「森の人」はオランウータンでしょ、「森の王者」って聞かないねぇ〜、とかなんとかぶつぶつ、日曜日のヤッホー君!
 「森の王者」ってゴリラでしょ。たしかターザンだってゴリラに育てられたんだよねぇ〜、キングコングってのは?

 俳優の濱田岳(27)とタレントの森泉(33)が旅人となり、野生動物との会話に挑む。CBCテレビは30日午後2時から「濱田岳・森泉ガチ対面 密林ゴリラと伝説海獣〜いのちの星の親子たち〜」を全国ネットで放送する。
 「人間に飼いならされていない野生動物と心を通じ合わせ、会話することはできるのか?」をテーマに、地球上の生き物にスポットライトを当てた海外ドキュメンタリー。濱田は世界中で800頭しかいないマウンテンゴリラに会うためにアフリカのルワンダへ、森は人魚のモチーフとされるマナティーに会うためアメリカのフロリダ湾へと向かった。
 ロケの前にゴリラ研究の第一人者である京都大学の山極壽一総長にゴリラ語を教わった濱田。野生ゴリラとの会話に心躍らせていたが、対面した最長老のマウンテンゴリラからさっそく洗礼を受けてしまう。恐怖心が消えない中、会話に挑戦。「初対面の人間が近づいてきているのに警戒心も感じさせないんです。懐が大きいと感じました」と野生ゴリラの様子を語っている。
 一方の森が訪れたのは、フロリダ半島のクリスタルリバー。毎年11月から3月にかけて野生のマナティーが多く集まることで知られるこの場所に出会いを求めた。初日は1頭も見つけることができずがっかりするも、2日目には水中でマナティーたちに囲まれ「夢みたい」と大興奮。「つぶらな瞳でアイコンタクトをとって『ちょっとおどけているよ』と私に言ってくれたような気がします。思っていた以上に気持ちを通わせられました」とコミュニケーションに手応えを得た様子だった。


2016年1月30日 08:10更新、スポニチ
濱田岳が野生ゴリラと“会話” 森泉はマナティーに囲まれ大興奮
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/entertainment/news/2016/01/30/kiji/K20160130011944130.html

 ね、昨日の土曜日30日のこと、テレビ放映があったんだよってヤッホー君、お聞きしました。
 といってもテレビのないヤッホー君にはしんぷんかんぷんなんですけどぉ〜
http://hicbc.com/tv/inochinohoshi/index.htm

 ゴリラ語? へぇ〜!
 「京都大学の山極壽一総長にゴリラ語を教わった」へぇ〜!

― 6月に、大学の総長(学長)の権限を強める改正学校教育法が国会で成立しました。少子化とグローバル化の進む時代を勝ち抜くためのリーダーシップを発揮させる狙いです。

山極: 時代の流れに即した改革をするためには、スピードが必要です。全部局の意見を聴きながら進めていてはスピードが遅くなる、という指摘はあるでしょう。しかし、意見を無視して、信頼感を喪失しては改革そのものに支障が出ます。ゴリラの社会には『ボス』はいません。いるのは、リーダーです。リーダーのオスは、強さを誇示するだけではなく、メスや他のオスたちをよく観察し、外敵から仲間を守り、集団を維持し、みんなから頼りにされている。文部科学省が言う「リーダーシップ」も、信頼の負託があってこそ発揮できるものだと思います。

― どんな学生を育てたいですか。

山極: 京大のモットーは「自学自習」。これは今も変わっていません。けれど、学び方が大きく変わってきている。インターネットに幼いころから親しんできた学生たちにとって、知識や技術は「人」に教わるものではなくなっているように感じます。ネットだけで完結している。けれど、宝物はひとりで見つけることはできません。私は、ゴリラを追いかけて、各地でフィールドワークを続けています。現地では、周囲の人とコミュニケーションを取り、互いの発見について討論し、学びを深めていく。そのおもしろさの先に宝物はあります。この過程を踏まえ、オリジナリティーに富み、世界の誰も考えていないことを実践できる学生を育てたいですね。常に、相手は「世界」です。人間以外の動物は、教育をしません。例外的に、ライオンが傷ついた獲物を捕らえずに、子どもに追いかけさせて技術向上を助けたり、チンパンジーが木の枝を使ってシロアリを取るなど道具を使うときに、子どもに見本を示したりする「教示行動」がありますが、ほんのわずかです。それも血のつながりのある親子の間で行われるだけです。人間が教育するのは、高い共感力があるからです。将来、自分がどうなっていたいかを描き、目標を立てることができる。その思いで進むうち、他者の知識の欠陥を埋めたいと思う。つまり教育とは、「おせっかい」なんです。大学とはその最たるものだと思っています。


※週刊朝日  2014年8月8日号より抜粋
http://dot.asahi.com/wa/2014080100065.html

 この山極先生、ヤッホー君の大好きな作家・南木佳士とは高校の同級生だった… へぇ〜!

 10月1日に京都大学の第26代総長に就任した山極先生は、昭和27年生まれの62歳。東京の国立市で育ち、少年の日は宇宙飛行士を夢見ていたといいます。ノーベル賞の湯川秀樹博士に憧れて京都大学に進みますが、物理学ではなく霊長類学の魅力に目覚め、やがてアフリカでゴリラの生態研究に明け暮れます。「ゴリラの群れの一員となって共に暮らし、そこで『人間とは何か』をじっくり考えたい」――少年時代の宇宙への夢は、いつしか人類発祥の地である熱帯雨林の世界へと探求の方向を転じたのでした。

〈「山極先生もここを歩いたんだね」
 高校の周囲をめぐり終え、向こう側に渡る歩道橋の上から桜並木の絶景を見やりつつ妻が唐突につぶやいた。
 妻はマウンテンゴリラの野外研究で世界的に有名な京都大学の山極寿一教授のファンである。何度かテレビで観て、こういう男のひとには弱い、と頬を赤らめていた。
  いつだったか、教育テレビに出ていた山極教授が、先生にとって人間とはなんですか、との問いに、人間とは他者のなかにじぶんを見いだそうとする動物だと思います、と答えていた。この場合の他者とは、生物でなくとも、自然、山などなんでもいいとのことだった。
「よくわかっているひとの話はわかりやすいんだね」
 笑顔のすくなくなっていた妻の顔が久しぶりによい血色になった〉

(南木佳士「白い花の木の下」、『先生のあさがお』文春文庫、所収)

 作者である南木さんと山極さんとは高校の同学年だったとか。クラスは違ったけれど、「バスケット部だったはずの山極君を、サッカー部の練習中に見た覚えがある。あのころから女子にモテていたような気がしてくる」とあります。


 実は、山極さんに関してはもうひとつ別の話を紹介するつもりだったのですが、そこに辿り着く前に紙数が尽きてしまいました。そちらはまた別の機会に譲ることにして、まずは特集の「人にはどうして家族が必要なのでしょう」のロングインタビューをじっくりお読みいただきたいと思います。
 家族崩壊の危機と言われて久しい昨今ですが、家族の意味、価値をこれほど熱く、確信的に語る人を他には知りません。家族の崩壊は人間のアイデンティティーの危機である、人間の人間たるゆえんは「家族」にある、という山極さんの“ゴリラ人間学”を味読していただければ幸いです。


2015年冬号『考える人』(12月25日発売)
人にはどうして家族が必要なのでしょう
「考える人」編集長 河野通和(こうのみちかず)
http://www.shinchosha.co.jp/kangaeruhito/mailmag_html/616.html


posted by fom_club at 10:27| 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

山本宗補

(上)人生方向づけた「戦争」
 江戸時代の白壁の商家が残る山口県柳井市。中心街から離れ、寂れた歓楽街の一角にあるアパートの一室で、85歳の独居老人がワープロに向かっている。胃ガンの摘出や胆のうの手術などで満身創痍の老人は、体重37キロ。視力は落ち、耳も遠い。だが、小泉首相、安倍首相と続く政治の流れが、老人の反骨心の残り火を燃え立たせる。六畳間の片隅では、愛犬のロクが寝そべり、部屋の隅には、周防大島で暮らした時期に自作した棺桶が置かれている。
 報道写真家、福島菊次郎。1960年代初頭から20年間、フォトジャーナリズムの第一線で活躍し、学生運動、あさま山荘事件、三里塚闘争、被爆者、公害問題、若者の風俗など多岐に渡るテーマをルポ。「文芸春秋」「現代の眼」などの月刊総合誌を中心に、一時は年間150ページ以上発表した。これまでに刊行した写真集は12冊に上る。
 その反骨精神を物語るエピソードの最たるものは、60年代後半、防衛庁広報課を欺いて、自衛隊と兵器産業の実態を撮影し、雑誌に発表したことだろう。「国家権力を相手に、取材にモラル云々をいっていたら、権力に都合のいい写真しか撮れない」と福島さんはいう。暴漢に襲われて重傷を負い、不審火で家が焼けたが、屈しなかった。
 写真集『原爆と人間の記録』を出版した1978年、テレビ番組「徹子の部屋」に出演した際には、「『天皇制批判はしないで』と釘を刺されたので、『終戦』という言葉を使ったらその場で席を立つことを約束させた」という。 
 その福島さんはここ何年か、写真で表現できなかったことを文章で補完しようと、自分史を追うように取材現場の記憶をたぐり、一人称で書き残している。『写らなかった戦後 ヒロシマの嘘』(現代人文社、2003年)には、多くの被爆者が見捨てられ、死んでいった平和都市広島≠フ暗部を、『写らなかった戦後2 菊次郎の海』(同、2005年)では、62歳で東京を捨て、郷里に近い瀬戸内海の島に移り住んでからの生活を中心に綴った。
 『菊次郎の海』のあとがきには、こう書かれている。

靖国神社こそは若者を死地にかりたて、ボロ布のように使い捨てた軍国主義の大量殺人装置以外の何ものでもなかったのだ。ボクも何度か靖国の生け贄になりそうになった

 その戦争体験が、福島さんの戦後の生き方を方向づけた。
 福島さんは1921(大正10)年、周防灘に面する山口県下松市の漁村の網元の家に生まれた。小学校の遠足で隣接する光市の伊藤博文の家を見学した後、1923年の虎ノ門事件(摂政時代の昭和天皇の暗殺未遂事件)で処刑された難波大助の家を回り、「国家に背くと死刑になる」という教師の説明に震え上がったそうだ。
 1944(昭和19)年4月に召集され、広島西部第10部隊輜重(しちょう)部隊に入隊した福島さんは、馬に蹴られ骨折し、そのおかげで死を免れる。入院中に沖縄へ向かった所属部隊の輸送船は、米軍の攻撃を受けて沈んだ。沖縄戦終結後の二度目の召集では、原爆が投下される6日前、広島から貨物列車で宮崎の海岸に送られた。グラマンの空襲に脅えながら、米軍上陸に備え、爆雷を抱えて戦車に飛び込む自爆訓練に明け暮れていたとき、広島に原爆が落とされ、原隊は全滅した。わずか「六日」が生死の運命を分けた。
同級生の半分近くが戦死した。命は天皇陛下からいただいたものだから、天皇陛下にお返ししなければいけないという固定観念があった。戦争で死ぬことと、敵を殺すしか考えなかった狂気の青年時代だった」と福島さんは振り返る。
 小学生のとき、中国人50人は殺さないと、と思っていたという。「仲の良かった同級生は上海戦、南京戦を戦い残虐行為をやった。もし戦争に行っていたら、僕も相当悪いことをしただろう。戦争に行けば死ぬのはわかっていたから。戦後は、ほおかむりして反戦平和を唱えたと思う
 復員後、福島さんは郷里で時計店を営みながら広島に通い、行政に見捨てられた被爆者の苦しみを撮り続けた。最初の写真集『ピカドン』を出版したのは1961年のことだった。

http://asama888.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2015/09/2007-eec8.html

(中)自ら権力に挑んだ闘い 
 戦後、郷里の山口県下松市で時計店を営んでいた福島菊次郎さんは、原爆投下の一年後に、広島の原爆ドームに草が生えたという新聞記事を読み、時計部品の仕入れを兼ねて、写真を撮りに行った。それが広島での初めての撮影だった。被爆者の撮影に本格的に取り組みはじめたのは、原爆犠牲者慰霊碑の除幕式があった1952年の夏。原爆症に苦しみ、極度の困窮のなかにあった中村杉松さん一家を紹介されてからだ。「そっとしておいてください」と語る被爆者が多いなかで、中村さんは違っていた。

「わしの写真を撮って世界中の人に見てもらってください。ピカに遭うた者がどれだけ苦しんでいるか伝えてください」

 そう頼まれた福島さんは、広島に毎週通い、一家の生活を克明に撮影した。1960年夏、東京で写真展を開催。翌年、最初の写真集「ピカドン」を出版した。そのリアリズムは高く評価され、あるカメラ雑誌は「この恐ろしい事実の背後に、心ある人は深く戦争否定の精神を読み取るだろう」と評した。福島さんは「アマチュア時代の原爆取材が、その後のすべての仕事のバックボーンになっている」と話す。
 プロの写真家への道を開いた「ピカドン」はしかし、大きな代償をも伴った。苦しさでのたうち回る中村さんにカメラを向ける自身の冷徹さに悩みながら撮影を続けるなかで、生業の時計屋は傾き、夫婦関係は壊れた。福島さんは一時、精神病院に入院し、自殺を妄想するまで追いつめられたという。妻と別れて上京する決断をしたのも、その苦境を打開するためだった。明治生まれの母親は、「ワシは街を歩けん」と嘆いたそうだ。
 3人の育ち盛りの子どもを抱え、上京後は生活のために石油会社の広報誌の写真を撮った。しかし、その撮影中、ふと自問した。「オレは何のために上京したのか」 広報誌の撮影は止め、サンドイッチマンのアルバイトなどしながら、被爆者の取材を続けた。
 ベトナム反戦運動、三里塚闘争、学生運動が高揚した戦後日本の激動期。機動隊に立ち向かう若者たちに、福島さんは共感以上のあこがれを感じ、夢中でカメラを向けるようになる。「若い頃、国のいうことを鵜呑みにしていた自分がどれだけ阿呆だったかを思い知らされた」からだという。
「学生運動は国家権力に対する反乱であり、市民運動は海をこえた反戦運動」だった。
 組織には属さず写真を発表した。そして「自衛隊は憲法違反だ」という信念から、自衛隊と兵器産業の撮影に取り組む。それは、カメラを武器に自ら国家権力に挑んだ闘いだった。福島さんはまず、防衛庁広報課に広報用の写真撮るカメラマンとして自分を売り込んだ。写真掲載誌を見せ、「これを撮ったカメラマンです。学生運動を取材して、こんなことでは日本は終わりになると思った。自衛隊の若者は税金泥棒といわれながら国を守る仕事についている。使える写真は無償で提供します」
 江田島の海上自衛隊幹部候補生の撮影を頼まれたのは2週間ほどたってからだったという。徐々に信用を得た福島さんは、自衛隊の軍事演習を撮り、兵器産業をつぶさに撮影した。そして、「自衛隊告発」キャンペーンを雑誌で始めたのだ。撮影したネガを、家が建つような高額でネガを買い取る話もあったが断った。暴漢に襲われた福島さんは、尾骨と前歯を折られ、顔を十針以上縫う大けがを負う。東京・目黒の借家は不審火で延焼し、焼け出された。
 
「もうお終いだと思った。ところが全国紙が写真付きで報道し、カンパが集まった。町内会からも20万円。僕は元気が出た」

 ネガだけは高校生の娘が運び出していた。煤けたそのネガを日大芸術学部の学生らが手分けして洗ってくれた。福島さんはカンパで、ニコンのカメラ3台を買いそろえた。当時、作家の井上ひさしさんが、当時の福島さんの人物ルポを雑誌に書いている。

福島氏が豪(えら)いのは、外出すると尾行がつくことである。つまり家庭では優しい父親である氏が、いったん玄関の戸をあけて足を一歩外に踏み出すと、体制側の要注意人物になってしまうわけだ」(「芸術生活」)

 上京した母が、「お前、食えるのか」と心配するので、福島さんが掲載誌を見せると、母は驚いて「お前、お上にはむこうてええのか」と言った。「福島の家系から縄付きが出る」ことを心配したのだ。その母親の危篤の報を、三里塚闘争の取材中に受けた。死に目にはあえなかった。
 1982年、福島さんは東京を捨て、郷里に近い瀬戸内海の無人島に移り住む。62歳のときだった。

http://asama888.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2015/09/2007-fecb.html

(下)抵抗の一粒の種を蒔く
 1982年、福島菊次郎さんは20年間の報道カメラマン生活と決別し、東京を離れた。

メディアが自己規制を始めた。僕の写真は敬遠され、最後の2年は月刊誌にほとんど使われなくなった。ここにいたら、僕も一緒に腐ると思った

 62歳。3人の子どもは自立し、親の務めは果たした。手元には10冊の写真集が残った。写真学校などの講師の薦めもあったが断った。左手の指がニコチンに染まるほどのヘビースモーカーだった福島さんは、このときを境にタバコを止め、郷里に近い瀬戸内海の無人島へ渡った。「漁師の子、海に帰ろうという帰巣本能。瀬戸内海で一番きれいな、関鯖がとれる海を探した」という。
 しかし、無人島での暮らしは、体を壊して一年余りで行きづまる。周防大島のミカン畑に囲まれた借家に移り住んだ福島さんは、果樹を植え、野菜を育て、魚を釣る自給自足を目指した。私が福島さんに初めて会った八六年頃、若い同居人の女性と暮らす福島さんは、人を寄せ付けない、気難しそうな雰囲気が漂っていた。ミカン、ブドウ、キウイ、レモンなどの果樹を栽培し、野菜もイチゴも人糞を肥料に育てていた。パンや豆腐、ハムも手作りし、ワインも自分で作った。
 「報道写真家・福島菊次郎」の闘いが再び始まるのは、69歳になった1988年だった。その年の秋、福島さんはガンで胃の3分の2を摘出した。手術の5日後、6人部屋のテレビに昭和天皇の顔が映し出された。下血報道が続いた。
「絶対に奴より先に死なんぞと思った」と福島さんは振り返る。著書にはこう書かれている。

あの悲惨な戦争のなかで、殺す者≠ニ殺される者≠ニして遭遇した相手だけに、『このままトンズラされてたまるか』と思うと、じっとしておれない焦燥と危機感に追い込まれた。僕なりの決着をつけなければならなかった」(『写らなかった戦後2 菊次郎の海』)

 「マスコミは天皇の戦争責任の隠滅に加担している」と福島さんの目には映った。退院を早め、ふらつく身体で250枚の写真を引き伸ばして、「戦争責任展」の写真パネルを自費制作した。パネルを無償で貸し出した巡回展は、各地で右翼の妨害に遭い、発砲事件も起きた。しかし、それがマスコミで報道され、全国から申し込みが殺到した。家には、名を告げない脅迫電話がかかってきた。
「夜道を歩くな」
「そんなにこの国が嫌いなら日本から出ていけ」
 万一に備えて福島さんは、自分の身体に合わせた棺桶をベニヤ板で作り、苦しまずに死ねるように、首から下げるペンダントには青酸カリを忍ばせた。「戦争責任展」は1990年から3年間で160ヶ所を巡回した。
 10年間一緒に暮らした女性との関係が破局を迎えたその頃、福島さんは新たに、かつて取材した全テーマの写真をパネル化する「写真で見る日本の戦後」に取りくんでいた。それを「遺作展」にするつもりだった。
 原爆、自衛隊、天皇制、学生運動、公害、原発・・・。3300点に及ぶ膨大な写真パネルの制作は完成するまで11年かかった。年間50〜60万円の制作費は、東京都写真美術館が収蔵品として買い上げた写真代のほか、東
京時代に自己流で始めた彫金で得る収入を充てた。
 「彫金やっていなければ、あのパネルはできていない。島で生活をしていたから可能だった」と福島さんは言う。
 戦後日本の暗部を照射する写真パネルは、全国を巡回し、1999年には下関に常設展示館が開館した。翌年柳井に移した展示館は、福島さんの病気入院などで、その後閉館した。だが、写真パネルの貸し出しは続いている。

僕はこの国の主権者。憲法を守り表現の自由を行使してきた。言いたい放題やりたい放題やってきた。これがボクの一番の財産。自己規制もしていない

 そう語る福島さんはいま、写真で伝えられなかったことを文章で補完する『写らなかった戦後』シリーズの3作目を執筆している。仮タイトルは「殺されるな 殺すな」。1960〜70年代の学生運動や市民運動が主題だ。執筆活動も福島さんにとっては、「一人の市民運動」だと福島さんはいう。

現代の市民運動に問われているのは、勝てなくても抵抗して未来のために一粒の種でもいいから蒔こうとするのか、逃げて再び同じ過ちを繰り返すのかの二者択一だけである

 福島菊次郎さんはもうすぐ86歳になる。その生き様を見つめながら私は、命を粗末にする政治や行政を目の前にして、「当事者」の一人であるお前はどうするのか、と自分が問われていることに気づかされていた。(
了)
http://asama888.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/2015/09/2007-1ee4.html

信濃毎日新聞2007年掲載
『カメラを武器として』報道写真家・福島菊次郎
フォトジャーナリスト 山本宗補(やまもとむねすけ、1953年長野県生まれ)


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2016年01月30日

福島菊次郎

 ヤッホー君のこのブログ、2016年1月27日付け日記「母と暮らせば」ご参照ください。
 この映画も見たかったけどザンネン!

 報道写真家の福島菊次郎さんが9月24日、脳梗塞のため山口県柳井市の病院で死去した。94歳。本人の遺志で葬儀は行わない。47NEWSなどが報じた。
 福島さんは1921年、山口県に生まれた。戦後、戦争孤児を撮影して救援物資集めの写真展を開いたのをきっかけに写真の道へ進んだ。
 激痛に苦しむ被爆者の姿などを撮った写真集「ピカドン ある原爆被災者の記録」を1961年に発表。
 全共闘運動や、自衛隊、公害、祝島(山口県)の原発反対運動、震災後の福島などを取材し、問題点を訴えてきた。
 2012年8月に公開された長谷川三郎監督によるドキュメンタリー映画『ニッポンの嘘〜報道写真家 福島菊次郎90歳〜』のなかで福島さんは、報道写真を撮る意味について「表に出ないものを引っぱりだして、叩きつけてやりたい」などと発言していた。


2015年09月25日 18時49分 JST更新、The Huffington Post
福島菊次郎氏が死去 報道写真家「表に出ないものを引っぱりだして、叩きつけてやりたい」
HuffPost Newsroom
http://www.huffingtonpost.jp/2015/09/25/fukushima-kikujiro_n_8194284.html

 このドキュメンタリー映画『ニッポンの嘘〜報道写真家 福島菊次郎90歳〜』ってどんなの?って言いますと:

 日本の戦後を見つめた伝説の報道写真家がいる。福島菊次郎 90歳。
 初めてシャッターを切ったのは、敗戦直後、焦土の広島。
 報道写真家としての原点とも言える「ピカドン ある原爆被災者の記録」は、国家から見捨てられた被爆者とその家族の苦悩を10年以上にわたり撮影。「平和都市ヒロシマ」の隠された実態を暴き出し、日本写真批評家協会賞特別賞を受賞。福島菊次郎の名を全国に知らしめた。

 ライフワークとなる被爆者の撮影を続ける一方で、学生運動、三里塚闘争、自衛隊、兵器産業、公害、祝島、原発など、常に激動の現場の最前線に立ち、戦後の日本のあり方を世に問い続けてきた。

 その取材スタイルにも信念が貫かれている。
 防衛庁広報課を欺き、自衛隊に潜入取材を敢行。逆行する時代の象徴のような自衛隊と軍需産業の実態を「隠し撮り」し、雑誌に発表するなど、反骨精神を物語る多くの伝説をいくつも残した。

 しかし、1982年、保守化する日本に絶望しメディアと決別。
 自給自足の生活を目指し、瀬戸内海の無人島・片島に渡る。
 現在は、山口県柳井市のアパートで愛犬ロクとふたり暮らし。
 天気の良い昼下がりはロクの散歩がてら、近所のスーパーへ食料の買い出しに。食事はもちろん自炊。慣れた手つきで包丁を手に取る。ときに原付バイクをころがし、補聴器の注文をしに行く。
 胃がんを患い切除手術をして以降、定期健診はおこたらない。そんな日々の中で90歳を迎え、そろそろ最期のときを感じ始めた。

 広島でシャッターを切ってから66年。
 報道写真家として撮影した写真は25万枚以上。モノクロスチールに刻まれた叫びや怒り、悲しみ…。
 人生の最後を迎えようとする時、福島菊次郎は「写真には写らなかった戦後」を語り始めた。

 そして、2011年3月11日。東日本大震災が発生。
 予想を上回る津波。原発事故。震災から半年後の9月、報道写真家人生最後の取材場所として、福島へ向かうことを決意する。

 2009年から2011の2年間に及び、福島菊次郎に密着。
 とてつもなく誇り高い生き様と、真実を伝えることへの揺るぎない意志。
 敗戦から現代まであらゆる時代の嘘を見抜いてきた福島菊次郎が語る言葉と、時代を切り取ってきた壮絶な写真の数々。
 そこには、我々が今まで見たことのない「日本」が描きだされている


東京新聞、映画試写会のお知らせ
『ニッポンの嘘 〜報道写真家 福島菊次郎90歳〜』
8月4日(土)より、銀座シネパトス、新宿K's cinema、広島 八丁座ほか全国順次ロードショー!
(配給:ビターズ・エンド)
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/cinema/nipponnouso/

チェック
 戦後日本のあり方を問い続け、メディアが報じない真実や国家のうそを暴いてきた反骨の報道写真家・福島菊次郎に密着したドキュメンタリー。
 敗戦直後の広島で被爆者や家族の苦悩を撮影し、隠ぺいされた広島の実態を暴き出して以来、確固たる信念で真実を伝えようとしてきた彼の生きざまや、カメラマン人生最後の取材場所として原発事故の起きた福島へと向かう姿を映し出す。
 監督は、数々のテレビドキュメンタリーを手掛けてきた長谷川三郎。
 朗読をベテラン俳優の大杉漣が務める。

ストーリー
 終戦直後の広島で被爆者家族の苦悩を克明に撮り続けた報道写真家・福島菊次郎は、それ以降も三里塚闘争、安保闘争、公害問題などを取材し戦後日本のあり方を問い続けてきた。
 しかし保守化が進む日本社会やメディアと決別した後、無人島での自給自足生活を経て愛犬と暮らす穏やかな日々を送る。
 自身の最期を意識し始めた頃、東日本大震災が発生し、彼は原発事故が起きた福島へと足を向ける


『ニッポンの嘘〜報道写真家 福島菊次郎90歳〜』
http://www.cinematoday.jp/movie/T0013804

 監督の長谷川三郎はこんなことを:

 実は『ニッポンの嘘 報道写真家 福島菊次郎90歳』は、表現者であるクリエイターにこそ一番観て欲しい映画なんです。ドキュメンタリーというものを通して人と向き合う苦しさや大変さ、その先にある喜びを表現する事とは何なのかを感じてもらうきっかけになってほしい。

 本作は表現者にとって、いいヒントを得ることができる“劇薬”なので、是非飲んでみてください。きっと損はさせないと思います。

長谷川三郎(はせがわ・さぶろう)
 法政大学卒業後、円谷プロダクション入社。ドラマ、CMなどの特撮スタッフとして制作に関わる。
 1996年ドキュメンタリージャパン参加。「TIME OF LIFE・青春〜右翼青年22歳〜」の演出でデビュー。
 以降、NHKや民放を舞台にディレクターとして活躍。
 「ザ・スクープ〜釜ヶ崎無情〜」「宇宙船地球号」「ガイアの夜明け」「真剣10代しゃべり場」「課外授業ようこそ先輩」「NNN ドキュメント〜ゲームの中の戦争〜」「NONFIX〜シリーズ日本国憲法〜」「田原総一郎スペシャル〜忘れてもいっしょ・若年性 認知症夫婦の記録〜」「報道発ドキュメンタリ宣言〜日本初!国選刑事弁護人〜」「ザ・ノンフィクション〜弁護士たちの街角シリーズ〜」「旅のチカラ〜医師ゲバラが見た夢〜」など、ドキュメンタリー番組を多数演出している。


クリエイティブビレッジ
http://www.creativevillage.ne.jp/2444



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Sightseeing at Penang Hill

 ヤッホー君のこのブログ、一昨日1月28日付け「ジャングルウオーキング」をご参照ください。
 ヤッホー君たちが No.5 で休んでいた同じ日、山頂では…

GEORGE TOWN: Visitors to Penang Hill got a pleasant surprise when the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah came by to make a sightseeing tour of the tourist spot.

Many of them took photographs and recorded videos of the King, who took a ride in a golf buggy.

The King made a stop at Penang Hill’s mosque and enjoyed the breathtaking panoramic view of the city that includes the second Penang Bridge named after His Majesty.

Tuanku Abdul Halim also tried out Penang’s famous durian at the Bellevue Hotel during his three-day leisure visit to the state, which began on Saturday.
Earlier, the King arrived at the foot of the hill at about 11.30am. Present to welcome His Majesty were the Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and State Secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus.

Penang Hill Corporation (PHC) general manager Dr Lawrence Khoo revealed that the state officials were told of the King’s visit on Friday.

He said the PHC then made the arrangements to welcome him in accordance to royal protocol.

“We beefed up security measures at the place. Special Branch officers were also deployed to check out coaches in the funicular train.

“I was told that this was the first time the King had visited Penang Hill. I hope that he enjoyed it,” he said after the royal visit.

Khoo also said the funicular train services were closed to the public for an hour during the King’s visit.


The Star, Monday, 4 January 2016
King goes sightseeing at Penang Hill
BY CRYSTAL CHIAM SHIYING
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/01/04/king-goes-sightseeing-at-penang-hill/

 ね、マレーシアの King のサプライズ訪問にびっくり。
 わが国の雲上の人 Emperor Akihito の慰霊の旅の記録もヤッホー君の「日記」にしておかないと:

MANILA (Reuters) - Japanese Emperor Akihito on Wednesday urged the younger generation to "keep alive the memories of the Second World War" and the hardship that followed, as a way of avoiding conflict amid growing maritime tension in the East and South China Sea.

Akihito, 82, who met Philippine President Benigno Aquino privately at the start of a four-day state visit, expressed remorse over atrocities in the region by the Japanese imperial army 70 years ago.

The emperor wanted to remind young people who had not experienced the war not to forget the hardship it brought to both Japan and other Asian countries, his press secretary, Hatsuhisa Takashima, told reporters in the Philippine capital.

"It's a thing which should not be repeated again," Takashima added. "He has a strong feeling towards war ... and that's the reason he came here."

He said the Japanese emperor, who as a child had experienced the horrors of war, was worried the younger generation would not "keep alive the memories of the Second World War".

As a young prince, Akihito was sent to the mountains to escape American bombings in Tokyo. He returned after the war to find the capital in ruins and the people experiencing hardship.

The emperor's comments come against a backdrop of growing regional tension as China presses more assertively its claims to almost the entire South China Sea, which is believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas.

But Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have conflicting claims. China and Japan are contesting islands in the East China sea known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Akihito, banned by Japan's constitution from any political role, has often urged his nation not to forget the suffering of the war and tried to promote reconciliation with neighbours.

Aquino's communications secretary, Herminio Coloma, said the president and the emperor talked about his first visit in 1962, the traffic congestion brought by Japanese car sales and retail shops from Japan.

Two war-related issues - the return of the remains of more than 500,000 Japanese soldiers who died, and the sexual slavery of "comfort women" in the Philippines - would be left to the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he added.

"The emperor will not touch upon these issues by himself, it is left solely to the Abe government," Takashima said.

Akihito offered flowers in the national heroes' cemetery, and visits a Japanese war memorial south of Manila on Friday.


Wednesday, 27 January 2016 | MYT 1:53 PM
Japanese emperor asks youth to keep alive memories of World War Two
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/world/2016/01/27/japanese-emperor-asks-youth-to-keep-alive-memories-of-world-war-two/


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2016年01月29日

タウンウオ―キング

 2016年タウンウオーキングのはじまり、はじまりぃ〜!
 ここで拍子木が鳴るんだよね、ポ、歩、ポ〜ン、チョン、チョン。
 あのさ、ポ、歩、ポ〜ンは拍子木でなくって、能や狂言の小鼓!
 それにチョン、チョンという拍子木は幕切れの時でしょ、っしたら幕が開くときってじゃあ、鳴り物入りってないのかな…
 チョン、チョンだからダメなんで、チョン? 教えて、附打(つけうち)さん…

板付き(いたつき) 舞台で幕が開いたとき、または回り舞台で場面を転換したときに、出演者がすでに所定の位置に登場していること。板は舞台の床板をいう。歌舞伎では幕が開き切って、チョンという柝の音が入ってから台詞や動きを開始する。
(日本劇場技術者連盟、劇場技術者のための用語の解説)
http://www.teec-or.org/

 こんなこと頭をめぐったのは、「げんやだな」の前。

『与話情浮名横櫛(よわなさけうきなのよこぐし)』といえば、通称「お富与三郎」「切られ与三」として親しまれている人気演目です。とりわけおなじみの場面は「ご新造さんへ、おかみさんへ、お富さんへ。いやさお富久しぶりだなあ」の名せりふで知られる「源氏店(げんじだな)」の場ですが、元々は史実の「玄冶店(げんやだな)」に由来しています。

 玄冶というのは三代将軍家光の時代に将軍お抱えの医者として名を馳せた岡本玄冶、その屋敷のあった所が玄冶店です。「冶(や)」の字を「治(じ)」に置き換えると「げんじ」となり、そこへ「源氏」という字を当てて芝居の舞台にしました。
 とはいえ実際にあった有名な場所の上に言葉の響きが粋で、「玄冶店」はこのお芝居の代名詞ともなっています。
 人形町三丁目交差点付近には「玄冶店跡」の史蹟碑が建てられ、その歴史を今日に伝えています。

(歌舞伎 今日のことば 「玄冶店」)
http://www.kabuki-bito.jp/special/kabuki_column/todaysword/post_174.html

 そして、「お富さん」(1954年、春日八郎1924-1991)!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp_dSOBw-OE

 下もお読みくださいね:
(二木紘三のうた物語)
http://duarbo.air-nifty.com/songs/2014/05/post-56e6.html

 リーダーの江戸さんと歩けば江戸時代に呼び戻され、歩けば歩くほど味の出る山歩クラブ・タウンウオーキングです:

 寒波襲来で中止も考えたというリーダーでしたが、お正月の9時半日本橋北詰に8名全員集合!

日本橋.jpg

 小伝馬町までのタウンウオーキングを無事に終え、打ち上げは小伝馬町、それどチョン、チョンではないのです。
 さらに人形町まで舞い戻って、新年会を6時まで、と相変わらずのわいわいがやがや、山歩クラブでした。

 「貨幣博物館」では江戸時代の千両箱とイマの一億円の包みを持ちあげ、比べてみようだって。
 株価がさがってしまった「東京証券取引所」前で日向ぼっこしていたら守衛さんからダメですと言われ、気持ちまでも下がったり。

東証前.jpg

 お昼をとった浜町公園では、寒くって日の当たる場所で皆んなくっついてまんま。
 でも千葉さんにつられて買った甘酒横丁は「志乃多寿司総本店」なる明治10年創業のお店の「五色巻詰合せ」。
 このお弁当こそ、日本人に生まれて良かった味!

「日本橋郵便局」(明治4年の創設)の前に「はがきの木」があり、皆んながびっくりしました。この木の葉に、とがったもので何かを書くとくっきりとあとが残るということです。"多羅葉(たらよう)はがきの木"、「葉書」の由来の木は、「前島密」の前にありました。

 では皆の衆、さ、さぁと小伝馬町に急ぎ、「伝馬町牢屋敷」跡では吉田松陰の辞世の歌を皆で朗誦して涙をはらはらと落としました。
 こうなったら、厄払いにお酒は欠かせません。
 ここでお別れ、JRに乗って錦糸町まで帰ると言ってたリーダーまで引っ張って人形町にとってかえして、さ、さぁとお酒。
 だってこれは、年の暮れのタウンウオーキングで歩いてきた世田谷・松陰神社をも偲ぶお清めのお酒でもあったのですから。

 今回は深遠なるリーダーの企画、下見、実施には脱帽し、そのまんま、頭があがりませぬ。

 2016年、皆んなで楽しい、平和で豊かな年にしていきましょうね。


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2016年01月28日

ジャングルウォーキング

 今度のマレーシアをちょっとだけ振り返ってみましょう、ってヤッホー君。

 1月3日(日)午後4時、ペナン島・植物園(Penang Botanical Garden)の「ムーンゲート」(中国伝統様式の満月を模した丸い月形の出入り口、門)にクルマで行き、待っていました。
 町内会のハイキング!

 集まっている気配がなく心配になったヤッホー君、そこにおられたご婦人に「いま何時でしょうか」とお聞きしましたら、「今日一緒に歩く日本人?富士山、登りましたよ」ってお応えしてくれました。
 町内会のメンバーがハイキングクラブをつくっており、毎週、毎週ですよ、日曜日午後4時に集まって、山(ジャングル?)の中を歩いているのだそうです。
 お話しはうかがっていたのですが、ヤッホー君は初参加!

 蚊やヒル、ヘビを恐れたヤッホー君、長ズボンを履いていったのですが、心配いりませんでした。
 悪さをする生き物は何も現れず、セミの鳴き声が降ってくるなか、時折り現れる谷間の川のせせらぎに励まされ、4Kmを無事2時間かけて目的地の「No.5」まで歩けました。
 「No.5」への最後の急登はたいへんでした。
 そしてポーズをして、I did it! I've got it! とか叫んでいましたよ。

 ここはNo.5というくらいですから、ペナンヒル830mの頂を目指すさまざまなルートが交差する五合目。
 そしてここには、ペナンの企業が持ち回りで提供してくれているんだそうですが、コーヒー、茶、水が無料でいただくことができます。
 香りがたかく苦みもあって濃い「コッピーピナン」はとても美味しく、病みつきになりそうでした。
 聞いてみたら、ムカシは自宅でも豆を炒って、それで粉にして飲む慣習があったらしいです。
 イマはすっかりインスタントコーヒーになっちゃったけどって。

 それよりも長ズボン、汗でぐっしょり。
 ズボンから地面に汗がしたたり落ち、上半身のシャツも脇の下が汗で真っ黄色!洗濯しても色が落ちませんでした、びっくり!
 ここで休憩をとったら、後は1時間かけて、山路を下ります。
 もうそろそろ暗くなるかな、という午後7時「ムーンゲート」に戻ります。

 下りは行きと違い、道幅も広く歩く人でいっぱいのコースですが、階段が多いからイヤと脇道の山路に入って下ったのですが途中、何度か、靴がずるずるっとすべり、次回からは山歩き用の靴で参加しないとアブナイと思いました。

 それとストックも。
 今回ヤッホー君、道端のちょうど良い長さの木の枝を杖代わりにしたのですが、考えないとと思ったそうで。

IMG-20160103-WA0017 (2).jpg

 写真の左端が、町内会のウオーキングクラブ・リーダーのミョウ Meoh さん(中国系マレーシア人)。
 そう言えば皆さん、中国系でしたね。
 
 先頭の後をがんばってついていったヤッホー君、皆さんからあとで「強いね」とほめられました。
 チ−ムメートになるには、「お試し参加」で脚力、人柄を見られるらしいのです。
 「また、おいで」と帰り際に言われましたので、多分、一次試験は通過したのかな…かな…



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2016年01月27日

母と暮らせば

 ヤッホー君のこのブログ、昨年秋口は2015年9月19日付けの日記「NORINTEN〜稲塚権次郎物語」をご参照ください。
 無事に帰国できて良かったな、としみじみ味わうために癖になってしまったのが、映画鑑賞!
 ふかぶかと真っ暗な映画館の椅子に座って、日本の見たこともない景色を味わえるからです。
 今回は、丸の内ピカデリーへでかけ、寅さんシリーズのの山田洋次監督作品と出会えました。
 吉永小百合主演で、ほか二宮和也、黒木華が出た松竹作品『母と暮らせば』を観てきました。
 公式サイトはこちら: http://hahatokuraseba.jp/

 いえ、ね、親しくしているおじいちゃまから「君は山形生まれだったね、そうしたらいま、上映中だからぜひ観ることをすすめるよ」って教えられたのです。
 この方、実は『一枚のハガキ』も『望郷の鐘』もすすめてくださいました。

 『一枚のハガキ』についてはヤッホー君のこのブログ、以下の日記をご参照ください。
☆ 2011年8月6日「広島原爆の日」
☆ 2011年8月13日「国公立短大」
☆ 2012年2月25日「藤波心」

 『望郷の鐘』については、2014年12月08日付け日記「語らねば、伝えねば、満蒙開拓団」をぜひ読み返してくださいますように。

 終戦から3年後、長崎の原爆で亡くなった青年が、ある日母親の前に現れることから始まる『母と暮せば』。
 巨匠・山田洋次監督が手がけた85本目となる最新作は、ファンタジーの匂いを漂わせつつ、ずしりとした愛情のドラマを観る者の胸に届ける。
 主演の吉永小百合と二宮和也が体現する親子の物語に複雑な味わいをもたらすのは、監督の前作『小さいおうち』でベルリン国際映画祭銀熊賞(女優賞)を受賞した黒木華。
 もはや名コンビとも言うべき二人が、作品に込めた思いを語った。

■「長崎」、そして「ナガサキ」への思い
Q: クランクインの直前に、二宮さん、吉永さん、黒木さん、そして監督とスタッフの皆さんとで長崎を訪れたそうですが。

黒木: やっぱり、現地の空気を肌で感じて演じるのと、知らないでやるのとでは全然違う気がします。長崎の坂道をたくさん歩きましたし、ここにかつて、本当に原爆が落とされた、ということが今は信じられないくらい美しい街でした。でも何かは感じる。そこかしこに小さい教会があって、マリア様がいて、クリスチャンの皆さんが根付いて、生活が続いている街を実際に体感できたのはとてもありがたかったです。

監督: 「怒りの広島、祈りの長崎」って言うんだよね。祈りっていうのはつまり、クリスチャンが多かったということなんだ。2年前にこの企画が僕のところに井上ひさしさんの三女、井上麻矢さんから持ち込まれたとき、ふと「できるんじゃないか」と僕は思った。で、製作スケジュールとか俳優さんのキャスティングが決まっていき、「待てよ、これは封切りはいつなんだ」と考えたら、2015年の夏までに完成させて年内に公開すると。ちょうど“敗戦70周年”だったんですね。そのとき不思議な運命のようなものを感じました。広島と長崎というのはカタカナやローマ字で書いたとき、別の意味を持ち始めるわけです。世界の人たちが知っているし、また20世紀の人類の歴史として記憶に留めなければいけない地名で、その“ナガサキの物語”ってことが重要ですよね。お母さんと息子の話なんですが、「舞台はナガサキ」だと。それは世界中の人の胸に永久に刻み続けてほしい地名なんですよね。

 山田監督が「終戦70周年」ではなく、「敗戦70周年」とこだわった理由が本作の肝でもある。
 つまり、そこからスタートするということだ。
 世の中には苦しいけれども前に進むために、忘れなければいけないことがあり、逆に、だからこそ絶対に忘れてはいけないこともある。
 『母と暮せば』はそんな山田監督の“切なる思い”、そして黒木華の真摯な演技が深い余韻を残す映画となっている。


山田洋次監督&黒木華『母と暮せば』
広島と長崎はカタカナやローマ字にすると別の意味を持つ
http://www.cinematoday.jp/page/A0004813

 長崎原爆を題材にした映画『母と暮せば』の上映にあわせ、劇中の息子が通った長崎大医学部(当時は長崎医科大)のある長崎市の坂本キャンパスで企画展が開かれている。
 中心となった大学生はもともと原爆や戦争の問題を避けてきたが、ある一言で変わった。自身も展示で「きっかけを作りたい」と願う。
 『母と暮せば』は、原爆で亡くなった長崎医科大生が戦後、母の元に現れるという物語。昨年12月に全国で公開された。
 展示会では、映画のパネルや小道具、長崎の被爆前後の写真などが展示されている。
 被爆前の写真は、手をつないで歩く子どもたちや笑顔の女性たち、初節句の記念撮影など日常がうかがえる。
 企画したのは、長崎大など4大学の学生30人ほどでつくる長崎被爆70年学生企画実行委員会。
 代表で長崎大医学部2年の内田直子さん(32)は福岡出身で、高校から11年間カナダで学んだ。カナダでは、米国が原爆を落とし、戦争が終わったと教えられただけだった。「戦争=死体」という怖いイメージで、アレルギーがあった。
 1年生だった2014年、医学部長から「来年は被爆70年だから学生で何か企画をしたら」と勧められたが、日々の生活に追われ、何もできなかった。だが、同年2014年11月、秋田県であったシンポジウムでパネル発表をした際、秋田大の学生に言われた言葉が心を揺さぶった。
 「長崎なら原爆について特別なこと習っているの?」
 自分は原爆のことを伝えられる立場にいるのに、していない――。
 ちょうど、その翌月に山田洋次監督が映画の製作を発表。同じ思いを持つ学生と映画にあわせた企画を考えてきた。映画にエキストラ出演し、昨年2015年9月には山田監督と対談もした。
 実行委では被爆者からの聞き取りもした。内田さんは、企画展に向け写真の提供も受けた長崎平和推進協会写真資料調査部会長で被爆者の深堀好敏さん(86)に会い、長崎医科大で子どもの時に肝試しをしていた思い出などに耳を傾けた。
 「日常があり、その命が失われるのが戦争なんだ」と感じる。
 「一方的に戦争はいけないというよりも、どういうことがあったと伝え、『どう思う?』という方が理解が深まる」と内田さん。
 今では戦争は「自分事」ととらえる。自分と同じような若者が原爆や平和について考えるきっかけにしてほしい、と期待している。
 企画展は1月15日まで、長崎市坂本1丁目の長崎大医学部良順会館で。入場無料。平日午前10時から、土日祝は午前9時から、いずれも午後7時まで。12日のみ午後7〜9時。
 山田監督からのメッセージビデオも上映されている。
 9〜11日午後2時からは、生前、『母と暮せば』のアイデアを構想していた劇作家、故井上ひさしさんの書いた舞台『父と暮せば』の上映会がある。


2016年1月9日03時00分更新、朝日新聞デジタル・長崎)岡田将平
「戦争は自分事」 長大生らが『母と暮せば』展
http://digital.asahi.com/articles/ASJ145VCXJ14TOLB007.html?_requesturl=articles%2FASJ145VCXJ14TOLB007.html&rm=286

 なぜヤッホー君の大好きなおじいちゃんが、「母と暮らせば」と山形をくっつけてお話しなさったんだろうと思っていましたが、謎がとけました:

 12月12日公開予定の松竹120周年記念映画『母と暮せば』。
 メガホンを取るのは山田洋次監督。吉永小百合主演、嵐の二宮和也、黒木華、浅野忠信らの豪華キャストでも話題だ。
 故・井上ひさしさんが広島、沖縄、長崎をテーマにした“戦後命の三部作”という構想を山田監督が引き継ぎ、映像化。
 しかし、映画のポスターなどに“井上ひさし”の名前はない。
 その背景には、井上さんの三女で『こまつ座』代表の麻矢さんと、井上さんの後妻であるユリさんとの関係がうまくいってないことが関係しているという。
 井上作品の著作権を持つユリさんが、12月にこまつ座が上演する『ひょっこりひょうたん島』に対し、『井上ひさし公式サイト』で反対の意向を発表。
 またユリさんはこまつ座に対し、5月に上演する舞台の“著作権侵害差止請求仮処分申立”を東京地裁に起こすなど、親子ゲンカは法廷闘争にもつれ込んでいる。
 日本の法律では、著作権者は作品に対して、大きな力を持っている。作品を上演する劇団や映画会社は、当然、著作権者の意向を無視するわけにはいかないのだ。
 この状況に対し当事者はどのように語るのだろうか。麻矢さんが社長を務めるこまつ座に質問をぶつけると、こんな回答が。
「ホームページに書かれていることがすべてです」
 その劇団のホームページには、
《『漂流劇 ひょっこりひょうたん島』は、制作真っ只中です。素晴らしい作品になりますように、こまつ座は全身全霊で取り組んでいます。ご心配をおかけしてすみません》
 では、著作権を持つユリさんはどう話すのか。自宅前で話を聞いた。

――『ひょっこりひょうたん島』の舞台化反対について、話し合いは進んでいるのでしょうか?
「いろいろ取材に来たけど、基本的にはノーコメントなの。ホームページに書いたとおりですよ」

――解決の方向に進んでいるのでしょうか?
「話し合いが進んでないですからね」

――『母と暮せば』も反対されているんですか?
「あれは山田さんの作品ですから。私がとやかく言う立場ではないですよ」

 『ひょうたん島』での話し合いに進展はなさそうだが、『母と暮せば』に関しては、ひと安心というところだろうか。
 ならばと、松竹へ質問状をFAXで送ったが、締め切りまでに返事をもらうことはできなかった。
 最後に、井上ひさしさんの元妻で麻矢さんの母、そしてこまつ座の創立にも関わった西舘好子さんにも、この状況について聞いてみた。彼女は、麻矢さんから1度も相談はないと明かし、こう話す。

「井上さんとぶつかっていた私と違い、ユリさんは穏やかな家庭を築き、彼の執筆を助けた女性です。なので、井上さんが大切にした作品やこまつ座も寛容な目で見てほしいですね。井上ひさしは文化としての公器なんです。もし、井上作品が上演できないのであれば、それは著作権者も、こまつ座も、ファンも傷つくでしょうね……」


2015年08月26日(水) 16時00分更新
著作権を持つ後妻が舞台化反対
井上ひさしさん遺族の争い、法廷闘争に発展で演劇界に波紋
〈週刊女性9月8日号〉
http://www.jprime.jp/entertainment/person_of_culture/17417


posted by fom_club at 09:09| 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

2016年01月26日

Heavy snowfall and freezing weather

Taiwanese media reported deaths from hypothermia and cardiac disease following a sudden drop in temperature over the weekend.

Meanwhile heavy snow forced the closure of the airport on the Korean holiday island of Jeju, cancelling flights.

The cold spell has also hit Hong Kong, southern China and Japan.

'Sudden drop'

Many of those who died in Taiwan were elderly people living in northern regions such as Taipei and Taoyuan. Those areas accounted for 66 of the deaths.

Another 16 were confirmed dead in the southern city of Kaohsiung.

The temperature in Taipei city fell to a 44-year low of 4C (39F) on Sunday, and many homes in Taiwan lack central heating.

Many victims reportedly had heart trouble and shortness of breath.

"In our experience, it's not the actual temperature but the sudden drop that's too sudden for people's circulatory systems,'' said a city official quoted by AP news agency.

The risks in the cold

Most excess winter deaths and illnesses are not caused by hypothermia or extremes of cold, but by heart and breathing problems. Frail elderly people are particularly at risk.

Cold weather makes your heart work harder to keep your body warm. It increases your heart rate and blood pressure and can cause changes to your blood that increase the risk of developing blood clots that may lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Low temperatures can make it harder to breathe and can make existing chest problems, such as asthma, worse. There is also more flu circulating during the winter.

If you have reduced mobility, are 65 or over, or have a health condition such as heart or lung disease, experts say it is a good idea to heat your home to at least 18C.

A 56-year-old man surnamed Chen was found dead on the street Sunday morning, reported Focus Taiwan, but most of the victims in the city and its surrounding region, known as New Taipei City, were found indoors.

Authorities have warned people, especially senior citizens, to keep warm and stay out of the cold.

In South Korea, more than 500 domestic and international flights have been cancelled in Jeju as the island, known for balmy weather and beaches, saw -6C weather. The airport was due to reopen on Monday night.

Thousands of tourists were left stranded over the weekend. Yonhap news agency reported that local officials were scrambling to find transport and accommodation.

In Hong Kong, residents shivered in 3C, the lowest temperature there in nearly 60 years.

Parts of Guangzhou and Shenzhen in southern China have also seen the rare appearance of snow, while the southern Japanese island of Okinawa has seen sleet for the first time ever, report Chinese and Japanese media.

Snowstorms have hit large parts of Japan as well, with more than 600 domestic flights cancelled across the country on Sunday and Monday, reported NHK news.

At least five people have died so far and more than 100 have been injured in Japan.

Temperatures have dropped in some parts of South East Asia as well, including Vietnam and Thailand.

In Bangkok, which rarely sees temperatures below 20C, temperatures dropped to around 16C on Sunday, while Vietnam saw the coldest weather in about two decades over the weekend, with Hanoi experiencing 6C.

BBC, 25 January 2016
East Asia cold snap 'kills 85 in Taiwan'
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35397763



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Penang on sale

Penangites are annoyed with the DAP-led state government’s recent revelation that it only had a very small land bank left.

In fact, many did not take kindly to senior state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow’s admission that Penang cannot fund its own highly ambitious RM27 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) even if it sells all the land it has, which warranted massive land reclamations.

In recent weeks, several photos made their way onto social media, with insinuations about the state government’s land deals.

One of them showed that Penang’s land bank had dropped from 18 per cent in 2008, when it came to power, to six per cent in 2014.

It also showed the state government’s expenditure had increased from RM270 million in 2008 to RM832 million in 2014.

Another photo had the words “Many Foreign Developer (sic) lobbying Penang State Govt for Land in Penang ... Is Penang on sale now?”

Disgruntled netizens took to social media to post various comments about the state’s land deals.

Among the postings were:

“DAP (Democratic Action Party)-led Penang government sold about 66 per cent of land left by previous BN government. The land drop from 18 per cent to 6 per cent within 8 years. Would there be anything left for future generations if it continues to sell land?”

“... His (referring to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng) father’s land?”.

...

Even the Auditor General’s Report in 2012 mentioned that Penang’s revenue was mainly derived from the sale of land as well as taxes and fees from such transactions.

It showed that the state’s collections from land premium payments, which were typically payments from alienation of state land, had sky-rocketed more than 1,000 per cent, from RM19 million in 2008 to RM206 million in 2012.

Press reports in recent years also highlighted the sale of state land under Lim’s administration.

They include:
2011: 41ha in Bayan Mutiara (worth RM1.07 billion);

2013: 44ha in Gurney Drive (no cash involved);

2013: 16ha in Batu Kawan (RM65.34 million);

2014: 99ha in Batu Kawan (RM484 million);

2014: 12ha in Batu Kawan (RM67 million);

2014: 190ha in Batu Kawan (RM1.02 billion); and,

2014: 49 per cent of 80ha in Batu Kawan and 2ha in Bayan Lepas (no cash involved).

There have been claims that the lands were sold for RM12.5 billion. Lim should come forward to verify this figure. If it’s true, he has to justify the land sales. What are these lands used for?

The people are asking where all those billions of ringgit have gone to. What benefits did they derive from the land deals?

In fact, some of the land sold have been replaced with high-rises and bungalows, which are beyond the means of the ordinary folk here. What is even more saddening is the fact that many people here are still crying their hearts out for a decent roof over their heads.

While the state had announced several affordable and public housing projects in recent years, the end products have yet to be seen in the majority of the cases.

The ball is now in the state government’s court to address the people’s displeasure. Lim has to do away with the argument that Barisan Nasional sold more land in Penang, yet received less money.

The people should not be taken as fools as they know very well how land prices have skyrocketed in recent years. People no longer buy such arguments.

With only six per cent of state land left since 2014, one wonders whether the state government will have any land left in future to sell.

After all, the lands are the people’s assets and should remain in their hands. Why sell off land which can be developed to help the people?

New Straits Times (NST), Updated: 25 January 2016 at 11:02 AM
Is Penang on sale now?
By Audrey Dermawan
The writer is NST’s Penang bureau chief. She enjoys the sun, the sea and the sand, from which she draws her inspiration.
http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/01/123870/penang-sale-now



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2016年01月25日

Camus at 100

Today, November 7th, 2013, Albert Camus would have been 100 years young. The voice of the Nobel Prize winning author of The Stranger and The Plague, The Myth of Sisyphus and The Rebel remains as vital today as it was during his own lifetime. Raised in a working class neighborhood of Algiers by an illiterate grandmother who slapped more often than she spoke, and a partly mute mother who worked as a cleaning woman, Camus confronted the absurd at an early age. Not only did it pursue him through his youth - a serious soccer player, he began to cough blood one day and found he had tuberculosis - but it also struck France in 1940, when the nation collapsed in the face of the German onslaught, transforming it into the collaborationist regime of Vichy. After returning to France from Algeria in 1942, Camus joined the Resistance and eventually became the editor of the great clandestine newspaper, Combat.

From the liberation of France to the end of his life, Camus continued to resist. Whether it was France's brutal treatment of the Arab and Berber inhabitants of Algeria or the glaring social and economic inequities in both Algeria and France, the institution of capital punishment or the use of the atomic bomb, the practice of torture and terrorism by both the French Army and Algerian nationalists during the bloody war of independence, Camus resisted the ways in which we turn fellow men and women into abstractions and we justify inexcusable means by citing impossible ends. On his centenary, we could do worse than recall his words on the duty of the writer: The nobility of our métier, he declared, "will forever be rooted in two engagements difficult to keep: the refusal to lie about what one knows and the resistance against oppression."

1) Camus was not an existentialist.

Smoking a Gauloise cigarette over an espresso in a Parisian café does not an existentialist make. Nor does an intense, but brief friendship with the poster child for existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre. Camus always, and rightly, reminded interviewers he wasn't part of that fashionable postwar movement, largely because it refused to move. Rather than offering an answer to its bleak diagnosis of the human condition, existentialists instead embraced it--a response unacceptable to the author of The Rebel and The Plague.

2) Camus was not French.

Strictly speaking, he was a pied-noir, the moniker given to the mostly European colonists who settled in Algeria during the 19th and 20th centuries and, with their offspring, became French citizens. While Camus' father was from Bordeaux (Camus however always believed he was from Alsace-Lorraine), his mother was from Spain and Camus' roots dug deep into Algeria. A half-century after Camus' death, Algerian writers and intellectuals are beginning to agree: for the novelist (and member of the Academie française) Assia Djebar, Camus is both a native son of Algeria and one of its great martyrs.

3) Camus was not a philosopher.

Though he took a philosophy degree from the University of Algiers--his thesis was on the thinker he liked to call "the other North African," namely Saint Augustine--he disliked the term "philosopher" as much as he did "existentialist." His two "philosophical essays," "The Myth of Sisyphus" and "The Rebel", were precisely that, essays: in other words, provisional efforts to make sense of the human condition. As with so much else in his life and work, the essays seek to pose questions, not provide answers.

4) Camus was not a pessimist.

Sure, he liked to remind us that there was no reason to hope. How could one in a universe of "tender indifference" to our repeated demands for meaning? But this was never a reason for despair. Think of the scene from "Annie Hall," where Woody Allen puts the moves on a young woman who, while staring at a Jackson Pollock canvas, replies with an apocalyptic vision of the world. Like Allen, Camus would have asked if she was busy tomorrow night and, upon hearing she planned to commit suicide then, would pause only a moment before asking if she was busy tonight.

5) Camus was not anti-American.

Which is not to see he was pro-American. He was, in a way, a bit like a first-time visitor to the Himalayas: their sublimity fills one with awe as well as dread. During his one brief visit to New York City right after the war, Camus was overwhelmed by the contrasts: the poverty of the Bowery and privilege of the East Side. At the end of his public lecture at Columbia University, it was announced that the evening's receipts, earmarked for a charity, had been stolen. The audience spontaneously made up the difference: an act of generosity that deeply impressed Camus. Yet, he was also impressed by "the army of starlets who recline on the lawns with their long legs crossed" he saw at Vassar. "What they do for young people here is worth remembering." Clearly, Camus didn't think the "starlets" themselves would bother to remember.

6) Camus was not always a novelist.

Like the writer with whose style he has often been compared, Ernest Hemingway, Camus began his writing career as a journalist. As a reporter for an independent newspaper, "L'Alger Républicain," he wrote in 1939 a series of searing accounts of the condition of the Berber tribes, whose miserable lot was largely the result of France's indifference. He continued his muckraking until the eve of WWII, when the authorities were relieved to have an excuse to shut down the paper. His journalism, like the rest of his writing, was marked by the conviction that whenever we "replace a political problem with a human problem, we take a step forward."

7) Camus was not George Orwell's twin who, separated at birth, was raised in French Algeria.

Orwell was taller and wore tweed. The rumor is, however, understandable. Both men smoked relentlessly, both men were tubercular, both men died too young and both men acted on their political convictions: Orwell during the Spanish Civil War, Camus during World War II. (Camus had also wanted to join the republicans in France, but his tuberculosis prevented him from doing so.) Both men remained on the Left, despite the very best efforts of the French and British Lefts, mesmerized by communism, to disown them. Both men, with their moral lucidity and personal courage, were essential witnesses not just to their age, but remain so for our own age as well.

Huffpost Books, 11/07/2013 06:38 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014
7 Things You Didn't Know About Albert Camus
By Robert Zaretsky
Professor of history at the University of Houston, is the author of "A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning" [Belknap Press, $22.95].


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2016年01月24日

Albert Camus

Please refer to Mr Yahho's Blog dated February 2, 2013 under the title of "神田神保町古書街".

There he enjoyed "The First Man" of Albert Camus at a movie house in Kanda.

Boyhood's Dark Fire
Date: August 27, 1995, Sunday, Late Edition - Final
Byline: By Victor Brombert;
Lead:
THE FIRST MAN By Albert Camus. Translated by David Hapgood. 336 pp. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. $23.
Text:

WHEN Albert Camus died in an automobile accident in 1960 at the age of 46, his wife and friends decided against publishing the manuscript of an unfinished novel, "Le Premier Homme" ("The First Man"). Though Camus had recently won the Nobel Prize in Literature, he was out of favor with the French intellectual establishment, which, at the height of the Algerian war, decried his voice of moderation. The correct stance at the time was to support the Algerian independence movement, and therefore terrorism. Camus, who was born and grew up in Algeria, opposed extremism and violence on both sides, favored a multicultural Algeria and ultimately preferred to remain silent on issues that he felt were distorted by ideology.

Under the circumstances, it seemed unwise to publish an unfinished, unpolished manuscript that was, moreover, bound to incur the wrath of ideologues on both the left and the right. "The First Man," in its uncompleted form, eventually came out in France, but only a year ago, and it made quite a stir. It now appears in an excellent English translation by David Hapgood. The book is a fascinating autobiographical novel, told in the third person (heightening the semblance of fiction), and represents a search for the author's self as well as a kind of testament. The novel helps put all of Camus's work into a clearer perspective and brings into relief what separates him from the more mili tant literary personalities of his day, like Malraux and Sartre.

Habitually reticent about himself, in his final work Camus quite explicitly sets out on a pilgrimage to his past and to his private world, compelling the reader to question the ideas conventionally associated with his name: existentialism, the notion of the absurd, the stranger's alienation from society, the theory of revolt, the myth of Sisyphus.
...

https://www.nytimes.com/books/97/12/14/home/camus-firstman.html

Meanwhile Mr Yahho recommends us to read the following article too in the Los Angeles Times Book Review:

LARB's history editor, Robert Zaretsky, has published a new book, A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning, published by Harvard University Press in honor of the centenary of Camus's birth, today.

Zaretsky also penned the following in honor of the French novelist, essayist, and philosopher.


IN THE BEGINNING, there was silence. After an overnight train trip in a third class train carriage, the husband and his pregnant wife riding in a carriage to their home in a rural Algeria. The jarring trip on the potted and rain-soaked roads hastened the pregnancy; when the travelers reached their farm, the woman was weeping silently from pain. The local doctor arrived, a makeshift bed was placed in front of the fireplace, and a boy was born. As the rain tailed off, the infant and his parents fall asleep in the silence of their new home.

That boy, the French Algerian writer and moralist Albert Camus, was born 100 years ago today. In his last and unfinished novel, The First Man, Camus recreates not just this scene, but one where he visits the grave of the father he never knew, killed in the Battle of the Marne when Camus was an infant. As Camus’s fictional alter ego, Jacques Cormery, stares at the tombstone, all around him, “in the vast field of the dead, silence reigned.” Only when Cormery hears a noise made by another visitor does he see, as if for the first time, the dates under his father’s name: “1885–1914.” His silence deepens with the realization that the “man buried under that slab, who had been his father, was younger than he.”

To gaze at Camus’ own modest gravestone in the southern French village of Lourmarin, the inscription “1913–1960” delivers a similar shock. When he left us, Camus was younger than many of us are now; what his father left his son, his son has left us: a profound silence that surges through his remarkable writings and life.

This silence is neither poetic nor mere rhetoric: it was a brute fact of Camus’s life. Not just the absent father, but also the present, yet mute mother. An illiterate cleaning woman, Catherine Camus spoke with difficulty − a handicap perhaps due to the shock of her husband’s death. The young Camus would sometimes find his mother “huddled in a chair, gazing in front of her” in the small apartment they shared with his illiterate grandmother and partly mute uncle in a working class neighborhood of Algiers. Her muteness, he recalled, seemed “irredeemably desolate.”

The silent mother haunts Camus’s writings: it is the dark matter toward which everything else is pulled. In The Stranger, it is the death of Meursault’s mother that begins the unmaking of his life; it is the mostly wordless presence of Dr. Rieux’s mother in The Plague that prevents the unmaking of a world swept by disease. Shortly before his death, Camus described his literary goal: to write a book about “the admirable silence of a mother and one man’s effort to rediscover a justice or a love to match this silence.”

What did Camus mean? That the depths of maternal silence can never be fully plumbed by a son? Camus always struggled with the fact that his life’s work was for a woman who could neither read nor talk. What he wanted most in the world was for his mother “to read everything that was his life and his being, that was impossible. His love […] would forever be speechless.”

This was no less the case with his other love, Algeria. By the late 1950s, the blood-dimmed tide of revolution and repression had spread across Camus’s native country. Ever since the 1930s, when as a young journalist he wrote fiery articles denouncing France’s treatment of the Arab population, Camus had always fought for a French Algeria where the ideals of 1789 would be applied to everyone, Arab and French alike. The two peoples, he insisted, were condemned to live together.

Yet it soon became clear that two peoples were instead condemned to kill one another. As acts of terrorism and counter-terrorism ravaged his country, Camus flew to Algiers to call for a civilian truce. As he spoke inside a large hall, a vast crowd of fellow French Algerians surged towards the building, shouting for his death. Camus insisted on finishing the speech, but then had to be rushed out of the building by friends serving as bodyguards.

When he returned to France, he decided he would no longer speak or write about the conflict. To what end? Given the tragic character of the conflict, silence was all he had left. He did act privately, though, intervening dozens of times with the French authorities, pleading that they commute death sentences dealt to Arab prisoners. His appeals were mostly ignored, but the integrity of his efforts will never fade.

During his visit to Stockholm for the Nobel ceremony, however, circumstances did force him to speak. At a public forum, an Arab student began to assail him for his silence. Increasingly distraught and angry, Camus finally managed to stop the tirade, declaring: “I have always condemned terror. But I must also condemn terrorism that strikes blindly in the streets of Algiers, and which might strike my mother and family. People are now planting bombs in the tramways of Algiers. My mother might be on one of those tramways. If that is justice, then I prefer my mother.”

The press mangled the last line − “I believe in justice, but I’ll defend my mother before justice,” Le Monde misreported − but both versions underscored Camus’s dilemma. Words had proved at best useless, at worst complicit in the widening gyre of violence. As with his mother, who made him silently feel an “immense pity spread out around him,” so too did Camus feel for the Algerian student. “I feel closer to him,” he confessed, “than to many French people who speak about Algeria without knowing it. He knew what he was talking about, and his face reflected not hatred but despair and unhappiness. I share that unhappiness.”

In his Nobel speech, Camus had said that silence, at certain moments, “takes on a terrifying sense.” Algeria was, for Camus, one of those moments. Words were worse than useless: incapable of stemming the catastrophe, they instead obscured its dimensions and meaning. Silence followed from his recognition that the humiliated were on both sides in this conflict: the great majority of French Algerians − the working poor like his own family − as well as Arabs. The truths at play in Algeria were, for Camus, incompatible.

On the centenary of Camus’s birth, we are left with this truth, left with this silence, left to us by an artist who died too soon.


https://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/camus-at-100

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2016年01月23日

Why Putin Loves Trump

Sofia, Bulgaria − “VLADIMIR VLADIMIROVICH, is war coming?”

The question is asked in the first frame of “Myroporyadok” (“World Order”), a manifesto-style documentary aired in the last days of December on Russian state television. And in the following two-plus hours, President Vladimir V. Putin, aided by diplomats, policy analysts, conspiracy theorists and retired foreign statesmen, attempts to provide an answer.

Though the Russian leader resists sounding the alarm, the audience is nonetheless convinced that if nothing changes in the coming months, the Big War could be imminent. And the Kremlin isn’t doing much to dissuade them: Days after the film’s airing, its new national security strategy, which declares NATO and the United States as fundamental threats to Russia’s future, was unveiled.

“Myroporyadok” is a powerful expression of the Kremlin’s present state of mind. It views the world as a place on the edge of collapse, chaotic and dangerous, where international institutions are ineffective, held hostage to the West’s ambitions and delusions. Nuclear weapons represent the sole guarantee of a country’s sovereignty, and sovereignty is demonstrated by a willingness and capacity to resist Washington’s hegemonic agenda.

The film’s story line focuses repeatedly on NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia, George W. Bush’s war in Iraq, the West’s misuse of a United Nations no-fly zone in Libya and the West’s insistent meddling in the domestic politics of post-Soviet states. This is all done to prove the film’s central point: that the West may carry on about values and principles, but all of that masks a realpolitik aimed at world domination.

Some of the accusations have merit: The United States certainly bears considerable responsibility for the catastrophe in the Middle East. Some are patently false: Not every popular revolt in the world is a covert C.I.A. operation. But all of them carry more than a whiff of exaggeration. America, after all, is neither as powerful nor as malevolent as the Kremlin supposes.

The central contradiction in Moscow’s view of American foreign policy is its failure to reconcile its insistence that America is a declining power with the tendency to explain everything that happens in the world as resulting from American foreign policy actions. Is Washington failing in its effort to bring stability to the Middle East? Or is keeping the region unstable the real objective of White House strategy? Improbably, Moscow believes in both.

More important, the film is a challenge to the widely accepted view of Mr. Putin as a coldblooded realist, a cynic who believes in nothing but power and spends his days poring over maps and checking his bank statements. In “Myroporyadok,” we find Mr. Putin the angry moralist who, similar to European populists and third-world radicals, experiences the world through the lens of humiliation and exclusion. As Mr. Putin’s close adviser, Vladislav Surkov, once wrote: “We still look like those guys from the working part of town suddenly finding ourselves in the business district. And they’ll swindle us for sure if we keep stumbling backward and dropping our jaws.”

Such exclusion fuels distrust and the tendency to view the world as a family drama structured around love, hate and betrayal. It is this sensitivity, rather than 19th-century realpolitik, that explains most of Moscow’s policies in recent years.
...

The New York Times, Published: JAN. 12, 2016

Why Putin Loves Trump

By Ivan Krastev

Ivan Krastev is the chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria, and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/13/opinion/why-putin-loves-trump.html


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60 years ago today

Sixty years ago today, Albert Camus gave the speech of his life. It was a speech, in fact, that nearly cost him his life, as well as one that failed in its goal of saving the lives of countless civilians, Arabs and French alike, caught in the vise of terrorism employed by both sides in Algeria’s war of independence. The reasoning behind the speech, as well as the reasons Camus gave it, cast important light on the “war on terror” now being fought in the West.
...

Algiers, in turn, was waiting: An audience of 1,500 men and women − French and Muslim, intellectuals and shopkeepers − had filled the hall and spilled into the staircases and adjoining rooms. The atmosphere was tense and febrile, especially as a menacing crowd of French colonists opposed to the meeting was massed outside the building. Camus told the audience that it was his duty, both as a French Algerian and a writer, “to make a simple appeal to your humanity.” Returning to an initiative he had first revealed in L’Express magazine, Camus proposed that the F.L.N. (National Liberation Front) and French authorities agree to a “civilian truce.” Looking around the hall, Camus declared that he had not come to ask that his listeners “relinquish any of their conviction.” Regardless of the ideological, political and historical causes at stake, he continued, “no cause justifies the deaths of innocent people.” Camus insisted he had no illusions: resolving the “present situation” was beyond his means. Instead, he urged his listeners “to renounce what makes this situation unforgivable, namely, the slaughter of the innocent.”

Yet the slaughter of the innocent continued for another six years. Even as Camus spoke, the crowd outside, furious at his “betrayal” of French Algeria, screamed for his lynching. Refusing to leave the hall until he finished, Camus was then hustled to safety by his friends.

In the following days and weeks, Camus found that his speech had influenced neither side. He never again spoke publicly about Algeria − a silence sealed by his death in a car accident in 1960 − and terror remained the order of the day in his native country until the signing of the Evian peace accords between France and the F.L.N. in 1962.

Of what possible relevance could Camus’s speech have for us today? Not only had it failed in its immediate goal, but the character of terrorism then and now seem utterly different. To an important degree, the F.L.N.’s use of terror was tactical: Through their bombings and massacres, the movement sought to spur French repression and thus radicalize their fellow Arabs and Berbers. They also wanted to demoralize the pied-noir community, making clear that they had no future in Algeria. Once their objectives were achieved, the F.L.N. ended their campaign of terror against the French (though they continued to terrorize their own citizens). As for the French, their use of terrorism (and torture) also came to an end (though diehards of French Algeria tried repeatedly to assassinate Charles de Gaulle).

The Islamic State jihadists who murdered 130 civilians in Paris on Nov. 13, however, are not terror tacticians. Of course, acts of terrorism are a potent recruitment tool for the Islamic State. But for many of the young men and women, born in the disaffected and distant suburbs of Paris and Brussels, the opportunity to wreak terror does not have a great deal to do with either French airstrikes in Syria or the dreams of creating a caliphate stretching from the Middle East to the Balkans. Instead, it may well be an act of simple nihilism and, as such, an end in itself.

Camus knew, of course, that his moral imperative − to save innocent lives − had no more traction than does a delegation of Girl Scouts with nihilists. But the black-clad terrorists of the Islamic State were not his audience: We are. Camus recognized that violence was inextricably woven into the fabric of everyday life. Though a pacifist, he also knew violence was, at critical moments, essential if we were to hold onto our humanity. This was the case with Hitler’s Germany − its defeat required violence on a massive scale − and the reason for his engagement with the Resistance. (By the time of Paris’s liberation in 1944, Camus was the editor of the most influential clandestine journal, Combat, and the face not just of French existentialism but of the French Resistance as well.) Addressing in 1943 an imaginary German friend, who by embracing the Nazis has also embraced nihilism, Camus remarks that it is easy “to do violence when it is more natural to you than thinking.” It is a much greater effort, however, “to fight while despising war.”
...

The New York Times, Updated: January 22, 2016 3:20 am

Making Peace With Violence: Camus in Algeria;

Photo-1 (AP): Demonstrators in Algiers, December 1960

Photo-2: Albert Camus

For Camus, true rebellion entails great tension. It holds fast to the moral center, resisting oppression while resisting one’s own tendency to oppress.

Reaction, like revolution, comes easily. Both scorn limits, and instead embrace extremes.


By Robert Zaretsky

Robert Zaretsky is author of “Albert Camus: Elements of a Life,” “A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning” and most recently, “Boswell’s Enlightenment.”

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/22/making-peace-with-violence/


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2016年01月22日

Era of financial vulnerability

THE year 2016 started with a big bang, but the kind we would rather avoid. The Chinese stock market plunged for several days, causing panic around the world, with the markets also falling in many countries, East and West.

This is another wake-up call to alert us that finance has become inter-connected, indeed much too inter-connected, globally.

Many developing countries like Malaysia have been drawn into the web of the global financial system in manifold ways, and that has made them more vulnerable to adverse developments and shocks.

We are now in an era of financial vulnerability, which easily turns into vulnerability in the real economy of GDP growth, trade and jobs.

An immediate issue is whether the rout in China’s stock market will affect its real economy, in which case there will be serious effects.

One view is that it would contribute to a “hard landing” as the Chinese economy already has many problems.

Another view, more realistic in my view, is that the spillover to the real economy will not be significant. A paper by Brookings-Tsing-hua Centre shows that the inter-connection between the stock market and the economy is limited in China.

In the United States, half the population own stocks and corporations rely heavily on funds raised in the stock market, but in China less than 7% of urban Chinese invest in the stock market and corporations rely much less than American companies on the stock market to raise funds.

Nevertheless, China’s economy is expected to slow down this year. Other factors also add to a pessimistic outlook for developing countries.

These include continuing weak conditions in Europe and Japan, that may offset the US’ more steady recovery; the expected interest rate rises in the US, which will draw portfolio funds out from developing countries; and weakening of commodity prices.

Already many developing countries are suffering on the trade front. In Malaysia, exports in November 2015 grew only 6.3% from a year earlier. More worrisome, Malaysia’s industrial production, also in November, grew by only 1.8% from a year earlier.

Other Asian countries fared worse. Korea’s exports for the whole of 2015 fell 8%. Taiwan’s exports are also expected to have fallen 10% last year and Singapore’s manufacturing sector declined 6% in the most recent quarter.

China’s exports in December fell 1.4% from a year earlier but imports fell more, by 7.6%, which is bad news for other countries as China has less demand for their exports.

But of equal if not more concern is how, in the financial area, emerging economies like Malaysia have in new ways become more dependent and vulnerable in recent years.

Foreign presence in these countries’ domestic credit, bond, equity and property markets has reached unprecedented high levels, and thus new channels have emerged for the transmission of financial shocks from global boom-bust cycles, according to a South Centre paper by its chief economist Yilmaz Akyuz. (http://www.southcentre.int/research-paper-60-january-2015/)

During a boom, there is a rush by yield-seeing investors to place their global funds in emerging economies. But when perceptions or conditions change, the same funds can exit quickly, often leaving acute problems and crises in their wake.

Malaysia is among the vulnerable countries. Firstly, the fall in the prices of oil (on Jan 12 reaching below US$30 a barrel) and other commodities has affected export earnings.

The balance-of payments current account used to enjoy a huge surplus, but this has been shrinking.

In 2010–13 there were very high inflows of foreign funds into Malay-sia, averaging over 10% of GDP. But by 2015 there was a sharp reversal, with foreign funds flowing out from the equity and bond markets.

Malaysia is vulnerable to large outflows as foreigners in recent years have built up a strong presence in the domestic bond and equity markets. Foreign holdings of bonds (public and private) peaked at RM257bil in July 2014. And the share of foreign holdings in the stock market was 23.5% at the end of 2014, indicating a foreign-holding value then of around RM400bil.

Many billions of ringgit of foreign-owned bond and equity funds have been leaving the country in the past couple of years, especially 2015.

Due partly to this, Malaysia’s foreign reserves have fallen from US$130 bil in September 2014 to US$95.3bil at end-December 2015.

Although the present reserves are adequate to cover imports and short-term external debt, they are also vulnerable to further outflows of foreign-owned funds in equity and bonds.

Debt held by Malaysians is also high compared to other countries, according to another paper by Akyuz. Debt by households was estimated at 86% of GDP in first quarter 2015 by Merrill Lynch. Public debt is near to 55% of GDP (compared to an average 40% for developing countries covered in a McKinsey report). And corporate debt is estimated to be about 90–96% of GDP.

The overall local debt is thus very high, probably exceeding 200% of GDP, one of the highest ratios among developing countries. Thus, the country has financial vulnerabilities at both the external and domestic fronts.

What the country faces is part of a trend among emerging economies that is likely to last for some time. Many other countries are in far worse shape than Malaysia.

In an article last week, Martin Wolf of the Financial Times highlighted the important shift in perception by investors of the prospects for emerging economies, that has resulted in capital flowing out.

Global investors withdrew US$52bil from emerging market equity and bond funds in the third quarter of 2015, the largest quarterly outflow on record. The most important reason for this is the realisation of the deteriorating performance of the emerging economies, according to Wolf.

Thus, developing countries are in for a tough time this year. Of course the vulnerabilities may not translate into actual adverse effects, if global or local conditions improve. But it is better to prepare for the probable difficulties ahead.

The Star, Published: Monday, 18 January 2016
Era of financial vulnerability;
The stock market crash in China and around the world shows hpw developping cojntries likw Malaysia are increasingly vulnerable to financial stocks, including outflows of foreign funds.
By Martin khor, executive director of the South Center
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/global-trends/2016/01/18/era-of-financial-vulnerability-the-stock-market-crash-in-china-and-around-the-world-shows-how-develo/


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2016年01月21日

The Golden Demon

 熱海は東京に比して温きこと十余度なれば、今日漸(ようや)く一月の半(なかば)を過ぎぬるに、梅林(ばいりん)の花は二千本の梢(こずえ)に咲乱れて、日に映(うつろ)へる光は玲瓏(れいろう)として人の面(おもて)を照し、路(みち)を埋(うづ)むる幾斗(いくと)の清香(せいこう)は凝(こ)りて掬う(むす)ぶに堪(た)へたり。梅の外(ほか)には一木(いちぼく)無く、処々(ところどころ)の乱石の低く横(よこた)はるのみにて、地は坦(たひらか)に氈(せん)を鋪(し)きたるやうの芝生(しばふ)の園の中(うち)を、玉の砕けて迸(ほとばし)り、練(ねりぎぬ)の裂けて飜(ひるがへ)る如き早瀬の流ありて横さまに貫けり。後に負へる松杉の緑は麗(うららか)に霽(は)れたる空を攅(さ)してその頂(いただき)に方(あた)りて懶(ものう)げに懸(かか)れる雲は眠(ねむ)るに似たり。習(そよ)との風もあらぬに花は頻(しきり)に散りぬ。散る時に軽(かろ)く舞ふを鶯(うぐひす)は争ひて歌へり。

 吁(ああ)、宮(みい)さんかうして二人が一処に居るのも今夜ぎりだ。お前が僕の介抱をしてくれるのも今夜ぎり、僕がお前に物を言ふのも今夜ぎりだよ。一月の十七日、宮さん、善く覚えてお置き。来年の今月今夜は、貫一は何処(どこ)でこの月を見るのだか! 再来年(さらいねん)の今月今夜……十年後(のち)の今月今夜……一生を通して僕は今月今夜を忘れん、忘れるものか、死んでも僕は忘れんよ! 可いか、宮さん、一月の十七日だ。来年の今月今夜になつたならば、僕の涙で必ず月は曇らして見せるから、月が……月が……月が……曇つたらば、宮さん、貫一は何処かでお前を恨んで、今夜のやうに泣いてゐると思つてくれ
http://www.aozora.gr.jp/cards/000091/files/522_19603.html

Today, Thursday, January 21, 2016, Mr Yahho started walking from the JR station Atami to the popular statue of O-miya and Kan-ichi.

The statue showed us Kan-ichi, distraught, kicked O-miya and shouted "You have been blinded by diamond" ("Diamond ni me ga kurami")...

Gracing the shoreline in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, is a statue unique among the many in Japan that celebrate local legends or famous historical figures.

The statue, donated to the hot-spring town by the Rotary Club in 1986, portrays a pivotal scene from “Konjiki Yasha” (“The Golden Demon”), a famous story by Meiji Era author Ozaki Koyo (1868-1903).

In the story, a beautiful young woman named Miya tells her fiance, Kanichi, that she is breaking off their engagement so she can marry a banker’s son who has wooed her with a big diamond ring. Enraged, Kanichi kicks Miya to the ground and vows to forsake humanity. Kanichi goes on to become a cold-hearted moneylender and Miya’s marriage to the rich man does not go well.

“The Golden Demon” first appeared in serial form in the Yomiuri newspaper, where it ran for 5½ years. It was then published as a novel, was later made into a movie and is often performed on stage.

Opinion:
Weatherman, 65 (Japanese)
For me, this statue symbolizes Atami. I’m here on a class reunion and coming to see this statue was a must for us. I couldn’t come to Atami and not visit this statue. This scene took place in the Meiji Era but it just goes to show you that you can’t trust women in any age.

Cosmetics consultant, 21 (Japanese)
Somebody posted a picture of this on SNS and that’s why I wanted to take a photo here. This statue makes me think that women suffered discrimination in the Meiji Era, but today it might be different − the woman might kick the man.

HR manager, 35 (German)
I think if somebody leaves somebody for another person who is richer, you don’t kick them. It’s not a very nice thing to do. It seems like the people who put that statue up want women to go back into the home and cook. It’s offensive to women.

Office worker, 40s (Japanese)
I came to Atami to go sightseeing, and of course I went to see the statue. I know a little about the story; it seems to me the man is a serious type who wanted his woman to follow him. I think there are fewer men like him these days.

Physicist, 34 (German)
It seems like the statue is part of history and they are showing what happened at that time. (Whether it’s appropriate is) a difficult question: If they put the statue up in 1886, not 1986, it would be OK, but I don’t think it’s appropriate as a symbol for a city in this day and age.

Volunteer guide, 64 (Japanese)
It’s a good symbol of Atami for sightseers, and as the scene is rather shocking, people know about it even if they don’t know the whole story. There used to be a pine tree that celebrated this scene that people would come to see, but now they come to take pictures here.
...


The Japan Times, Published: Jul 21, 2014
Atami: What do you make of this statue of a jilted gent kicking a girl while she’s down?
By Charles Lewis
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/07/21/voices/atami-make-statue-jilted-gent-kicking-girl-shes/#.VqCFmuRunIV

AGAIN the Japanese have sent us one of their better characteristic films in a handsome item called "Golden Demon," which opened last night at the Guild. It is a beautiful color picture, superbly composed and photographed, which conveys a romantic modern drama that fairly drips with sentiment.

It would seem, from this palpable "tear-jerker," that its makers had been inspired by the example of Hollywood's more lachrymal dramas of the "Souls in Bondage" school if it were not that its derivation is specifically and proudly proclaimed. It is from a Japanese novel by Ozaki Koyo that has been popular since the century's turn and has evidently given the Japanese people countless happy and tearful hours.

Briefly, it tells the story of a modern Japanese girl−modern, that is, by comparison with classical cultures of the past−who abandons a poor student sweetheart to marry a son of the nouveau riche and thereby open herself to torment of the most soulful and agonizing sort. Her husband treats her cruelly, flaunting his mistresses and generally humiliating her in front of her family and friends.

But, most painful, the sweetheart waxes bitter and takes to a vile career of money-lending, wherein he brutally squeezes the heart's blood out of the poor. However, a fire that destroys the money-lender's home and an attempted suicide by the young lady that very nearly succeeds finally brings them together for a deliciously soggy end.

In the sequence of Japanese culture, this tale is reputed to have had a profound and significant meaning for the new middle-class society. It was a solemn representation of the consequence of letting money be the ideal of personal achievement. That is the "golden demon" of the tale.

The theme has its social validity, but in putting it on the screen, Koji Shima, who wrote the screen play and directed, has expressed it in emotionally stilted terms. The separation of the sweethearts is, for instance, a florid and fulsome affair in which the man makes great gestures of denunciation and the girl clutches desperately at his knees. Or the ultimate reunion of the lovers−that is a studiously prolonged affair of the man sadly clutching the sodden body of the girl, who appears to be dead until her eyelids flutter and then open for the fade.

In short, the sentimental story is artificially contrived through a series of dramatic situations that are conventional and overplayed. Fujiko Yamamoto is a beautiful and delicate girl in the leading role, with a voice like a reedy musical instrument, but her behavior is oddly stylized, and Jun Negami is ponderous and pompous as the embittered sweetheart. The same is true of Eiji Funakoshi as the rich man the poor girl weds, and Kenji Sugawara is highly bravura as a friend. The most effective performance is that of Mitsuko Mito as an older woman, a money-lender, who tries to win the sweetheart's love.

But, like most Japanese pictures, this one is beautifully made by the standards of pictorial composition and color photography. The designs of costumes and scenery have an exquisiteness and harmony that proceed from one shot to another with extraordinary grace and ease. If for no other reason, this interesting picture should be seen simply to give stimulation and satisfaction to the eye.


New York Times, Published: January 31, 1956
Golden Demon (1953)
Movie Review By BOSLEY CROWTHER
http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9903E2DD173CE03BBC4950DFB766838D649EDE


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2016年01月20日

It will not be easy

TAIK KYI (Myanmar): Pushed from their forest home by encroaching farm land, wild elephants are driving fearful villagers in a Myanmar township to seek refuge in tree houses while the animals storm their rice fields looking for food.

The elephants have trampled crops, destroyed homes and even, villagers say, killed people in their path − forcing families in Kyat Chuang to build new shelters made of wood and bamboo on higher ground.

“We have had to move our huts into the trees, so we are safe,” explained San Lwin, who dashes several metres up a tree to his thatch-roofed shelter when the elephants are near.

Villagers in Kyat Chaung, a farming community 100km north of Yangon, told AFP they yearned for the days before the elephant rampages started three years ago.

Now they scamper up home-made bamboo ladders to their elevated huts whenever they hear the thundering sound of elephant feet, which is usually several times a week.
“We want them to be taken away … so we can live peacefully,” said Than Shin, a 57-year-old farmer.

Spurred by the loss of their forest habitats, the elephants, and villagers they have been terrorising, are some of the casualties of Myanmar’s alarming rate of deforestation, one of the fastest in the region.

The country lost almost 20% of its forest cover between 1990 and 2010, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Experts said the chief drivers of forest loss are logging and large-scale land concessions for commercial agriculture handed out under decades of opaque junta rule.

Myanmar’s population of wild Asian elephants is thought to be one of the largest in the region, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

But the endangered species is increasingly threatened by habitat loss, a thirst for ivory, and traffickers who smuggle the animals into Thailand for the tourist industry.

The newly-elected National League for Democracy (NLD) − the pro-democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi that swept to a thumping majority in landmark elections in November − said on Thursday it would address Myanmar’s medley of environmental issues after assuming office later this year.

“We will try to restore the environment in Myanmar that has been ruined for many decades,” Soe Nyunt, vice chairman of the NLD’s Environmental Conservation Committee told AFP.

“It will not be easy,” he added.

New Straits Times, Published: January 17, 2016
Jumbos force folk to tree-top refuge
By AFP


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keep fit and stay in shape

PUTRAJAYA: National triathlete, Shahrom Abdullah has successfully completed his expedition across the South Pole at 4.30am today (Malaysian time 5.30am).

He completed the expedition, called “South Pole All The Way Expedition 2015”, organised by the Seven Continents Exploration Club (KE7B) in just 37 days and four hours, about 20 days earlier than expected.

In a statement earlier, KE7B club advisor Datuk Akmar Hisham Mohd Yusof said Sharom left for Messner in the Antarctica last Nov 17 on a 60-day mission across the South Pole on ski over 1,000 kilometres from Messner Inlet to the zero degree point.

“Shahrom completed the expedition after skiing as far as 890 km from Messner Inlet to the zero degree point,” he said, adding that the success proved that Malaysians are capable of attaining world-class achievements.

He added that Sharom’s success has already been relayed to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.


New Straits Times, Updated: 16 January 2016 at 11:59 AM
Msian man successfully completes South Pole skiing expedition
By HASHINI KAVISHTRI KANNAN

KOTA BARU, Jan 18, 2015: Sixty-nine-year-old Wan Hashim Wan Mahmood created another history by cycling across five countries to complete his tour of Southeast Asia today.

He arrived here safely yesterday after covering over 4,000 kilometres in 49 days.

The grandfather of 18 also proved that age was not a factor for him to do something which is only expected from the younger generation.

“I challenged myself to do what many was said was impossible for a senior citizen, and I did it. I proved that age was not a factor for me.

“I did this for the country, as a personal mission to promote healthy lifestyle and as the little ambassador to promote our country to the world,” he told Bernama upon arrival here.

He was met on arrival by Kelantan Tourism and Culture Office director Mohd Aidil Afiza Daud, Red ONE Network Sdn Bhd Eastern Region Sales Division chief Steven Yong.

Also present were his wife Faridah Daud, 54, and mother Hasmah Ahmad, 84.

Wan Hashim began his mission on Nov 30 last year and had cycled across Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Singapore and Pulau Batam, Indonesia.

Relating his experience, Wan Hashim said he had initially expected to complete the tour at end of next month.

“This is probably due to the fact that I covered over 140 kilometres a day throughout the journey, instead of the initial plan of covering between 60 and 70 kilometres daily,” he added.

In April last year, Wan Hashim created history after being listed in the Malaysia Book of Records as “The Oldest Cyclist To Cycle Around Peninsular Malaysia”.

Wan Hashim plans to cycle around the United Kingdom in the next couple of years.


The Rakyat Post, Published: Jan 18, 2015 7:00am
Veteran cyclist creates yet another history
http://www.therakyatpost.com/news/2015/01/18/veteran-cyclist-creates-yet-another-history/


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2016年01月19日

Starting life all over again

I was trying to order some rail tickets online and there was some glitch in the payment section. This meant that I had to start all over again many times and the word frustration took a new meaning altogether.

Every time I keyed in the details, I made more mistakes as the brain became tired and fuddled. After the sixth attempt, I decided to give the company a call and the problem was arrested.

Starting all over is a journey of strength and resilience.

Hall and Oates in the song Starting All Over Again profess that this is an uphill climb to the finishing line. In the movie, Phoenix, a disfigured World War 2 survivor had her face reconstructed so she could begin a new life.

I was in Warsaw, Poland, recently and I would never have suspected that more than 85 per cent of the city’s historic centre was destroyed by Nazi troops during the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944. In fact, the market square in Old Town is a complete reconstruction.

Its citizens got together and after the war, they started a five-year reconstruction campaign which resulted in the magnificent restoration of the Old Town with all its iconic buildings.

The citizens laid brick upon brick on a virtual sea of ruins.

I am sure that there was much opposition to the reconstruction. After all, wouldn’t it have been easier just to leave the city as a war memorial and move on to make another city the capital?

But the indomitable spirit of determination reigned strong.

It was the incredible hearts and souls that drove the whole nation, the pouring in of donations and workers from all over Poland and, of course, with much volunteer work.

Apparently bricks from neighbouring cities like Wroclaw/Breslau were used for the rebuilding as well.

Constant knocking down eventually gets to us and affects our personalities, and we are shattered literally. To reconstruct is to pick up the pieces and make something new and better. Like a jigsaw, all the pieces can come together to give a complete picture.

I have been having fun with mosaic glass, assembling small pieces of coloured glass, tiles, stones or other materials to create beautiful images.

It is laborious work which involves the selection of the pieces and mounting them on a board or glass surface before finally fusing them together with grout, which can be sticky and mucky.

What begins as a humble sketch often ends in a spectacular display piece. In the process of picking up the glass pieces or shards, accidents do happen.

Reconstruction of our lives is just like that.

The pieces may cut us but we select those that we need to rebuild our lives and move on. Never mind the naysayers and gloomsayers − people who are negative about whatever we attempt to do.

Now is as good a time as any to reflect and see what we want to do with our lives. We have 12 months ahead of us which can be filled with great endeavours. My 2016 planner is already getting filled up!

I often have people come up to me to ask whether I miss teaching. My answer is always the same. I am content where I am, a different phase, a different season.

I may not be formally teaching in a university but I am teaching all the same − teaching myself and others around me, and more importantly, learning, which is key to everything.

Ronald E. Osborne says, “Unless you do something beyond what you’ve already mastered, you will never grow.”

Broken pieces can be fixed. Only if we want to.

New Straits Times, Updated: 17 January 2016 at 11:00 AM
Starting life all over again;
photo: More than 85% of the Warsaw's historic center in Poland was desoroyed by Nazi troops during the uprising in August 1944
Reconstruction: Proess begins as a humble sketch and often ends in a spectacular display piece
By Dr Koh Soo Ling
The writer was a lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Mara and now spends her days enjoying life as it is.
http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/01/122562/starting-life-all-over-again




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2016年01月15日

US call

The Turnbull government has resisted pressure from the United States to increase Australia’s military commitment to the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

But it has signalled it is open to providing further humanitarian support to the troubled region and would also increase the number of Australian defence force personnel in the anti-Isis coalition headquarters.

A spokesman for the defence minister, Marise Payne, said Australia had considered a request from her American counterpart, Ash Carter, “in light of the substantial contributions we are already making to train Iraqi security forces and to the air campaign”.

“The US has asked 40 or so other countries, including European countries, to consider expanded contributions to the coalition, following the attacks in Paris,” the spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The government has advised Secretary Carter that our existing contributions will continue.”

The spokesman said Australia was well placed to make an important contribution to command roles, and would increase the number of ADF personnel in coalition headquarters from 20 to 30.

“Our aircraft in the Middle East are available to provide additional airlift support to benefit coalition humanitarian efforts,” he said.

“The Australian government is also considering providing further humanitarian support for Syria and Iraq in the coming months.”

The government would, however, keep its our contribution under “ongoing review in consultation with our coalition partners”.

Malcolm Turnbull is due to travel to Washington DC next week to meet with Barack Obama on his first official visit to the US since ousting Tony Abbott as prime minister. The fight against Isis is expected to be high on the agenda.


The Guardian, Updated: Wednesday 13 January 2016 08.17 GMT
Malcolm Turnbull rejects US request for more Australian troops to fight Isis;
Australia resists US pressure to increase its military commitment in Iraq and Syria but has signalled it could provide more humanitarian support
Photo: An Australian army trainer demonstrates the correct standing position to an Iraqi army soldier during marksmanship training at the Taji Military Complex in Iraq.
By Daniel Hurst
http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jan/13/malcolm-turnbull-rejects-us-request-for-more-australian-troops-to-fight-isis

MANILA: The Philippines has asked the United States to hold joint naval patrols, a defence ministry spokesman said on Thursday, amid a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

Foreign and defence ministers from the United States and the Philippines met in Washington this week for the second time in more than three years to discuss trade and security, focusing on the South China Sea.

"We are suggesting that we also patrol the area together," Peter Paul Galvez told reporters in Manila. "There is a need for a more collaborative presence in the South China Sea."

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus underscored the importance of the U.S.-Philippine relationship, but declined to comment on the Philippine request for joint patrols.

A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Bill Urban, said the United States engaged "in numerous joint defence activities" year round with its ally, including exercises, capacity building, training, and intelligence sharing.

"While we do not comment on our joint planning discussions, we routinely evaluate ways to strengthen and enhance our military cooperation to better meet regional security challenges," he said.

China claims almost all the disputed South China Sea, where it has built artificial islands that extend its reach. Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines have competing claims in the sea, through which $5 trillion of trade passes annually.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Surface Navy Association near Washington, Mabus said the U.S. Navy was working closely with the Philippines through joint exercises, prepositioning of supplies and other steps.

A Philippines military spokesman said on Wednesday Manila had offered the United States eight bases where it can build facilities to store equipment and supplies under a new security deal.

Mabus said the accord paves the way for even closer ties, although the next steps were still being discussed.

"They're a very, very important international partner, and they're in a very important part of the world," Mabus said.

Tensions were heightened earlier this month when China began test flights from Fiery Cross Reef, one of three artificial islands where Beijing has built airfields.

The Philippines has challenged Beijing at the arbitration court in The Hague, a case Beijing has not recognised.

The United States has no South China Sea claim and says it takes no sides, though it has been highly critical of China's assertiveness and says it will protect freedom of navigation.

It carried out a navy patrol near areas claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines in October. A U.S. defence official said this month it remained committed to carrying out more but was still debating the timing.


UK Reuters, Updated: Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:32pm GMT
Philippines urges patrols with U.S. amid sea dispute with China
http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-southchinasea-philippines-usa-idUKKCN0US24G20160114


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We too have a dream!

JUST after 6pm on April 4, 1968 a shot rang out at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. A sniper’s bullet struck and killed a civil rights leader, but his death had far-reaching consequences for civil liberties in America and the rest of the world.

Since 1986, America has paid tribute to Martin Luther King Jr, with a national holiday that pays homage to the extraordinary life he led.

Before he turned 35, he had made his famous “I have a dream” speech, become the leader of the African-American civil rights movement and had won the Nobel Peace Prize.

He was only 39 when the assassin’s bullet took his life, but by then he had become an inspiration to millions of people around the world.

In fact, if he were alive today, I wonder what he would make of Barack Obama, a black man, being President of the United States. That’s how far race relations have progressed in the United States.

Sure, there are flare-ups every now and then in certain hotspots and there have been protests across some major cities on racial discrimination, but race relations at present are a far cry from what they were during King’s day.

Some 50 years ago, a number of Southern States continued to promote segregation laws. King successfully organised and led marches for blacks’ right to vote, desegregation, labour rights and economic injustice.

Often facing a hostile police force, King was beaten and even jailed at one time.

Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s use of non-violent civil disobedience, King used similar tactics and eventually, most of the rights he fought for were successfully enacted with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Ultimately, King paid with his life for the principles he believed in. He stood against racial polarisation discrimination and it is exactly these principles that we should be fighting for in our country.

We can’t compare the America of the 1960s, the era that defined King, to the situation in Malaysia now. Of course not.

There is no segregation of races, there are no public places that are off limits to a certain race and you most certainly do not have to give up your bus seat to someone of a different race.

But, there is discrimination and there is racism. To deny otherwise would be to be blind to what’s happening around us.

We pride ourselves on being a multi-racial and multi-cultural country and to a certain extent we are, but look deeper and you’ll find a fractured nation.

And the sooner our political leaders, from across the divide, realise this, the better it will be for all of us.

We are polarised like never before and in fact, as far as race relations are concerned, we have regressed.

The rural-urban divide can partly be blamed, but also our education system needs to be seriously looked at.

Understandably, our three main races view education as a sacred topic and emotions invariably run high whenever a suggestion to change the education system status quo is mooted.

There is a school of thought that believes our national curriculum promotes the segregation of races and the Sultan of Johor recently advocated single stream education as the answer.

I would have to agree with his royal highness because I seriously think this is the way forward for race relations to improve. Mother tongue education need not be sidelined but can be incorporated in a new national curriculum.

Education aside, most commentators tend to look at race relations with rose-tinted glasses. I’m guilty of that too.

Growing up in Klang in the 70s and 80s, I can’t think of a single racial incident, involving me or anyone I knew.

Perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me, but I can only recollect the good times I had with children of other races in the missionary school I went to.

Of course there was racism back then, but honestly, don’t you think it’s much worse now?

It is those with self-interest, who intend to gain from disunity, that have perpetuated polarisation in our nation.

But, I am a firm believer that there are numerous Malaysians out there who are reasonable, rational, and above all, not racist.

I believe that they want to live in harmony and want what’s best for all races.

Each of us in our own little way must become a Martin Luther King and stop this onslaught of racism and polarisation.

The Star, Published: Friday, 15 January 2016
Like King, we too have a dream;
Martin Luther King stood against racial polarisation and discrimination, principles that we should be fighting for in our country
BY BRIAN MARTIN
The writer is going to observe Martin Luther King Day by watching ‘Selma’, an excellent biopic that should serve as a reminder why Jan 18 is a national holiday in the US.
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/on-your-side/2016/01/15/like-king-we-too-have-a-dream-martin-luther-king-stood-against-racial-polarisation-and-discriminatio/


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Message of Canadian PM on Ponggal

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on Thai Pongal

Ottawa, Ontario, 14 January 2016
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Thai Pongal:

“Today, Tamils both in Canada and around the world come together with friends and family to celebrate Thai Pongal, the four-day Tamil harvest festival.

“As the harvest season comes to an end, each day of this festival has its own special meaning and traditions which are tied to abundance, peace and happiness.

“Thai Pongal reminds us of the many cultures and traditions that we are privileged to enjoy here in Canada. Our rich diversity is a source of strength, which should be cherished and celebrated.

“This is also a time for all Canadians to recognize the important contributions the Tamil community has made and continues to make across our country.

“On behalf of our family, Sophie and I wish everyone celebrating Thai Pongal a joyful harvest festival.”

- See more at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/01/14/statement-prime-minister-canada-thai-pongal#sthash.3EtV41CD.dpuf


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Ponggal or Holy Path Journey

GEORGE TOWN: It was the desire to improve the health of their children that led a family on the Patha Yathirai, or Holy Path Journey, to the Waterfall Hilltop Ayyappan Temple.

The family was among about 500 devotees of Lord Ayyappan, who after a 60-day fast and vegetarian diet, walked the 4km route from the Sri Ramar Temple in York Road to the hilltop temple barefoot yesterday.

S. Nagakani believes that the health of her two children will improve by taking part in the holy journey.

“My one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Janani is recovering, thanks to Lord Ayyappan.

“I am praying that Lord Ayyappan will continue to bless her with good health as she is always having fever, and doctors told us she has a very high blood cell count,” said the 31-year-old housewife, who was with her husband Nandakumar, Janani and six-year-old son Tugilan.

She said her son has had a heart condition since birth but has been continuously blessed.

“This is his fourth year carrying out the pilgrimage,” she said.

One of the oldest pilgrims was 65-year-old N. Murugovindan, who was there with 20 other family members.

“Lord Ayyappan answered my prayers and I am grateful for my renewed health.

“I recently had problems with my heart and was in a serious condition but Lord Ayyappan made me well. This is why I am on this pilgrimage; to show my gratitude to my divine lord.

“My family is also here to seek help for their problems,” he said.

Sri Ayyappan Seva Samajam Centre secretary M. Damodaran, 54, said devotees take part in the pilgrimage with the hope that their prayers for prosperity, a cure to a chronic illness, to find a life partner, as well as for solutions to domestic problems, are answered.

“They each will carry the irumuddi, which is a bundle of cloth containing rice, a coconut filled and sealed with liquid ghee and other prayer items, on their head,” he said.

“When they arrive at the temple, they will be seated while the guruji collects all the coconuts from them and breaks them.

“Devotees will know that God has accepted their prayers when the ghee in the coconut has hardened,” he said.

The pilgrimage is done on a far bigger scale at the Ayappan temple in Sabarimalai in Kerala, India, where devotees trek through a tiger reserve jungle for days before reaching the temple.


The Star, Published: Friday, 15 January 2016
Family takes divine path to good health
Photo: Road to prosperity: Devotees of Lord Ayyappan carrying the irumuddi from the Sri Ramar Temple in York Road to the Waterfall Hilltop Ayyappan Temple.
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/01/15/family-takes-divine-path-to-good-health/

THE Tamil harvest festival or Ponggal seems to be very much in the air in Little India in Penang.

The hustle and bustle of last-minute shopping, particu-larly for sugar cane which is a must for Ponggal, have brought many Indians to the enclave in the inner city of George Town.

Sugar cane traders who usually enjoy brisk business during the festival claim that there was no increase in business but many customers have taken advantage of cheaper prices − about RM7 for two stalks − to buy more.

“I brought in 500 sugar canes this year compared with only 300 last year from my supplier in Gurun, and have done more than RM1,500 in business compared with about RM1,000 last year,” said sugar cane seller Anbukarasan Moroter, 32.

His stall was in Penang Street in Little India.

He said Indians were willing to spend more for Ponggal as the festival was an important celebration.

“It has been a tough year for many and they have less disposable income, but with Thaipusam around the corner most of them are giving priority to the celebration by focussing on Ponggal,” said Anbukarasan.

A major sugar cane distributor K. Nadarajan brought in 10,000 sugar canes for about 50 shops in the state.

He added that Ponggal has put people in the celebration mood.

“My sugar cane stalks cost about RM7 a pair with the black ones, which are sweeter, costing RM10, lower than last year’s prices.

“I am seeing a bigger turnout of customers this year too,” said Nadarajan.

Housewife Jayapriya, 30, who was buying sugar canes in Penang Street, said although the cost of rice, ghee and milk was higher this year, Ponggal is ‘special’ as it is the first Indian celebration in the calendar every year.

“I had done my shopping for Ponggal but came back to buy sugar canes, without which the festival will be incomplete,” said Jayapriya.


The Star, Published: Friday, 15 January 2016
Crowds throng Little India as they prepare to celebrate Ponggal
Photo-1: Sugar cane traders enjoying brisk sales at Little India with many doing last-minute shopping for Ponggal.
Photo-2: Housewife Jayapriya with her daughter buying sugar cane stalks at Little India in Penang.
BY R. SEKARAN
http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/community/2016/01/15/time-for-thanksgiving-crowds-throng-little-india-as-they-prepare-to-celebrate-ponggal/

GEORGE TOWN: Devotees buying milk for the Thaipusam festival are being urged to be wary of products that may contain non-vegetarian ingredients, such as fish oil.

The Penang Hindu Association said Hindus should check the produce when using it for religious purposes.

“There are only two companies in the market that have declared that their milk products contain non-vegetarian elements such as fish oil by stating it on the product label.

“However many of the other milk producers do not have any labels indicating such elements, which puts consumers and particularly devotees in a bind as they do not know the contents of the milk,” PHA deputy president P. Murugiah told a press conference yesterday.

He said milk is used during Thaipusam and other Hindu festivals to perform abishegam (bathing of idols) and pooja (prayers).

“There are also those who fast during this period and they can only consume milk, yogurt and morru (buttermilk).

“Even kavadi bearers and those carrying milk pots for abishegam during Thaipusam are unaware that the milk may contain non-vegetarian elements.

“It is sacrilegious if the milk used has non-vegetarian elements such as fish oil,” said Murugiah.

“Manufacturers, producers, wholesalers and distributors should specify whether their milk products are vegetarian or non-vegetarian.”

He urged devotees to use fresh cow’s milk during Thaipusam.

He also urged the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to make it compulsory for the labelling of various milk products.

Also present at the press conference were representatives of the Malaysia Hindudharma Mamandram (Penang branch), the Global Integrated Transcendental Association of Penang and the Tamil Youth Bell Club.


The Star: Friday, 15 January 2016
Association: Milk producers must label their products
BY R. SEKARAN
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/01/15/association-milk-producers-must-label-their-products/


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2016年01月14日

when you are old

On one of my weekend drives to nowhere around this beautiful country, I stopped one late afternoon at a roadside stall somewhere deep inside central Pahang. What was planned as just a stop to wet my dry throat turned into another lesson in life.

The stall was manned by a frail old lady who moved about with the help of a rattan walking stick. As she was preparing the drink I asked for, I looked around and saw a small house behind the stall where she lived. There was a bench overlooking a pond next to the house where I pictured she would sit every evening to watch the day’s last lights. As she handed me my cup of tea that afternoon, I saw she had prepared one for herself and so invited her to sit with me. She came over and we talked.

Many years ago she and her then young husband came to a Felda land scheme not far from the place but left to start the food stall after the last of her three children made it through school and later left for the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur, and when she and her husband could no longer afford the hard work in the oil palm plantation.

They started the food stall but her husband died several years later of a kidney ailment. Since then, the old lady has been accompanied only by her beloved orange cat which that afternoon that we shared the table, laid fast asleep on the floor.

As she looked towards the road over the rim of her teacup, the old lady reminisced about her younger days, how she and her husband toiled the land to put their children to school so they would never have to go through the hardship their parents went through and that they would have a brighter future.

Now that all three of her children have made it and are living comfortable lives in the city, the lady said she was the happiest mum alive. “My husband and I have done our part. I miss him every now and then but I cherish memories of the many good years we spent together raising our children.”

Her children come to visit sometimes although she said she did not expect them to. “They have their own lives and children of their own now. And besides, they call me quite often,” she said.

The stall keeps her occupied during the day as lorry drivers on their long distance journeys along the Kuantan--Segamat route break their journey there. But as the place was otherwise isolated, I wondered whether she was afraid during the nights.

That was when she became rather philosophical, telling me that one must not complain too much about what life throws at us. “One day I will leave too. And if it is fated that this must be where it will all end, then I am more than ready. I have lived a fulfilling life. We had nothing when we arrived at the land scheme. All that we ever wanted then was to send our children to school. They returned our efforts by all of them going to university in the end. My husband and I were so happy,” she said.

When they first opened the food stall, friends from the land scheme frequented the place and they enjoyed talking about their younger days in the plantation. But since then many of them have either passed on or had become too old to make their way to her place.

When the time came for me to continue my journey, I said goodbye to her and wished her the best. She reminded me to drive carefully and to stop there if ever I’d pass that way again. As I looked into the rearview mirror before turning back onto the road south, I saw her bending down to pick up what by then was the love of her life, her orange cat.

A few weeks later, a friend who was also an avid traveller forwarded me a video clip. It was about getting old. In the clip were several reminders about the inevitable and how as mere mortals one may prepare for the evening years. I share with you here what was in the video clip which was simply titled “when you are old”.

WHEN you are old, spend as much time as possible with your other half. Remember, one of you will most likely leave first and the one left behind will only have memories to cherish.

WHEN you are old, there will come a time when even getting to your front door will be a challenge. So, while you still can, visit as many places as possible.

WHEN you are old, stop worrying about your children. They will make their own fortunes. Just make sure you have settled all your dues before you go so they will not have to bear any and that you will be able to leave without regret.

WHEN you are old, seize every opportunity to be with old friends, former classmates and former colleagues. There will be fewer such opportunities as time goes by. Running water does not flow back and so it is with life.

WHEN you are old, treat sickness with optimism. Whether you’re rich or poor, everyone goes through the process of birth, aging, sickness and death. There are no exceptions. That is life.


The video clip brought my mind back to the old lady at the food stall as there were some things in the video clip that were like those that she told me that afternoon we met. I could not help but felt thankful that even in her modest self and in that place in the middle of nowhere, lessons were aplenty.

New Straits Times, Updated: 13 JANUARY 2016 at 11:02 AM
When you are old... ;
Rules to live by:
Lessons in life are in abundance around us, but only if we sometimes stop and listen
BY MUSTAPHA KAMIL
The writer is the newspaper‘s group editor. The profession has taken him to all corners of the globe.
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/01/121913/when-you-are-old



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P.Ramlee (1929-1973)

TODAY I will not be serious. Nor will I be angry and definitely not the least bit sarcastic.

Of course there are of plenty of things happening that are serious, make me angry and want to bite certain people’s heads off.

But what has set my teeth on edge has also got others gnashing and grinding their molars and many of them have been forthright in stating their strong and well-argued opinions on these matters.

So I will not talk about mothers being robbed of their children by their ex-husbands using religion. I will not raise the issue of a new law that gives terrifying, dictatorial powers to the executive with nary a check or balance.

I will certainly not wonder why the cross is the latest symbol to be demonised as yet another insidious tool to confuse and mislead a community.

Neither will I get choked up over the vaping controversy even though it’s another stupid way to burn money and create health problems. I also will not see red over the blatant disregard for the environment fuelled by corruption in the bauxite mining scandal in Pahang. It’s not the first time, is it? Remember our blighted and scarred Cameron Highlands?

I could go on and on about rising costs, rising dengue cases, rising crime, rising numbers of Islamic State terrorists and sympathisers in our midst, but that would derail my purpose here today, which is to spread a bit of good cheer and humour while the year is still young.

So today I will tell jokes. Please don’t read any sinister intentions into this. There is none except to make you smile or better yet, laugh, which is the best antidote in bleak times.

Actually, I’m hopeless at telling jokes as I often forget the punch lines. The best I can do is share the wisecracks of others, beginning with the ones that came in our Christmas crackers.

Christmas eve was a simple affair but my sister and I felt infinitely blessed to be able to eat our home-cooked dinner with our mum and dad.

Dad, in his wheelchair, was bright-eyed and bushy tailed and those expensive Tom Smith crackers my sister bought with her robust Singdollars lent a festive note to the occasion.

Made merry by Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial bubbly, bought with my sickly Malaysian ringgit, we laughed like hyenas at the puns that exploded from the pulled crackers:

What kind of paper likes music?

Wrapping paper.

What did the grape do when it got stepped on?

It let out a little whine.

What do you get when you cross a snowman and a vampire?

Frostbite.

What do you get from a pampered cow?

Spoilt milk.

And my family’s favourite:

What did one eye say to the other?

Between you and me something smells.

Did you crack a smile? Did I tickle your funny bone? As a writer, I love puns, jokes that play on words, so here are a few more culled from the Internet:

Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.

If Apple made a car, would it have Windows?

To the guy who invented zero: thanks for nothing!

Atheism is a non-prophet organisation.

There was a sign on the lawn at a drug rehab centre that said, “Keep off the Grass”.

For situational jokes, a 2010 survey in the United Kingdom voted this to be the funniest and it’s still going strong six years on:

A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says: “Ugh, that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen!” The woman walks to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her: “The driver just insulted me!” The man says: “You go up there and tell him off. Go on, I’ll hold your monkey for you.”

To spice up my dull, grey life, I subscribe to a website that regularly sends me cheerful emails, often with jokes. This one is for our times.

A physician, an engineer and a politician were discussing who among them belonged to the oldest of the three professions. Each of them thought they had this in the bag.

The physician said, “Remember, on the sixth day God took a rib from Adam and fashioned Eve, making him the first surgeon. Therefore, medicine is the oldest profession.”

The engineer replied, “But, before that, God created the heavens and earth from chaos and confusion, and thus he was the first engineer. Therefore, engineering is an older profession than medicine.”

Then, the politician spoke up. “Yes, yes, this is all well and true,” he said. “But who do you think created all of the chaos and confusion?” (I repeat, I have no hidden agenda.)

And here’s one specially for my older readers who will get the drift:

With their ailing mother needing constant medical supervision, a family decides to bring her to a very expensive and caring nursing home for a day to try it out.

The next morning, the nurses bathe her, feed her a tasty breakfast, and set her in a chair at a window overlooking a lovely flower garden. She seems okay but after a while she slowly starts to lean over sideways in her chair.

Two attentive nurses immediately rush up to catch her and straighten her out. Again, she seems okay but after a while she starts to tilt to the other side. The nurses once more bring her back upright.

This goes on all morning, with the dedicated nurses making sure the old woman doesn’t fall. Later, the family arrives to see how she is adjusting to her new home.

“So Ma, how is it here? Are they treating you all right?” they ask.

“It’s very nice,” she replies, “except they won’t let you fart.”

Finally, an original Malaysian funny, courtesy of my son when he was just six years old:

One evening, the family was driving home after dinner in the city. We took a turn into Jalan P. Ramlee. The road sign caught my 12-year-old daughter’s eye and she asked, “Mum, who’s P. Ramlee?”

Before I could reply, her brother piped up confidently: “It’s the burger guy!”

Aunty hopes readers will -understand there was no -disrespect intended to the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee, the nation’s beloved -multi-talented singer-actor of the 1950s and 60s. It’s just that the -popular local Ramly Burger was more meaningful to a six-year-old.

The Star, Published: Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Why so serious? Let’s put a smile on!;
That's what The Joker said, so let's lighten up. or better yet, laugh in the face of adversity
By June Hl Wong
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/so-aunty-so-what/


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storing water

FLOODS are hitting the east coast of the peninsula, but the El Niño weather phenomenon is forecast to cause hot weather and droughts to other parts, like Kedah, where already there is parched, cracked earth instead of flooded padi fields. This will last through February to March. Of course, El Niño can also cause very heavy rains, as in California. But, as events have shown in Australia, the hot summer has made for raging bushfires. With luck it does not happen in Sumatra and Kalimantan, or Malaysia will again be shrouded in haze.

Anticipated for the peninsula is drought and the consequent water shortage. Less severe weather has caused havoc in previous years where water rationing in many parts of the Klang Valley caused hardship to households. Periods of 48 hours without water meant the near impossibility of storing enough water for every member of the larger-than-average household. In Selangor, when the rationing was in full swing, a timetable of affected areas was circulated, thus alleviating the problem somewhat as those affected were able to mount preparations. But, there are complaints at the moment that outages come unannounced leaving consumers high and dry. Water concessionaires, therefore, must plan well ahead for any and all eventuality so that daily life can proceed with little disruption.

Putrajaya has announced plans to help affected farmers of water-based crops like padi by sinking wells thus tapping into underground sources, a preparation to overcome the effects of climate change generally. Given that the problem is expected to be short-term − unlike that experienced by California where a five-year drought has meant that current exceptionally heavy rains due to El Niño are not expected to overcome the problem − such steps will be part of the larger build-up to long-term measures intended to cope with unpredictable weather patterns and, thus, ensure the country’s food security. The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry should then be the driving force behind securing water resource sustainability for the country. After all, water is second only to clean air, if life as we know it is to survive on planet Earth.

In arid countries like the Libyan Desert, the discovery of ancient aquifers meant abundant water. This was drawn up to the surface feeding the “man-made river of Libya”. Aquifers deep in the Sahara Desert demonstrated the possibility of storing water over the long term, in this instance, centuries. Israel is another example where underground sources have made agriculture in the desert possible. While the construction of Langat 2 will secure adequate water supply for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, the fact remains that climate change can cause water volumes in dams and rivers to fall below critical levels. Maybe, the time has come for the country to look into the possibility of capturing the heavy rainfalls in aquifers to overcome extended periods of drought, or even to improve supply, given the increasing population pressure. For, water is also essential to industries, not just agriculture and life. More than dams capturing surface water, therefore, are needed.

new Straits Times, Updated: 13 JANUARY 2016 at 11:00 AM
Ensuring enough water supply;
Population pressure making Malaysia vulnerable to climate change
http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/01/121893/ensuring-enough-water-supply


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2016年01月13日

Mr. Bowie

David Bowie, the infinitely changeable, fiercely forward-looking songwriter who taught generations of musicians about the power of drama, images and personas, died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday...

Mr. Bowie, who in his 50-year career reimagined the worlds of pop music, art and fashion, told very few people about the cancer that preceded his death on Sunday, at 69, a year and a half after his diagnosis. Even those working closely with him on a sudden burst of new projects were surprised to learn he had been dying...

During his life, Mr. Bowie pushed his music relentlessly forward while reinventing himself as many personas − from Davie Jones, a young rhythm and blues singer from the London neighborhood of Brixton, to the interplanetary pop star Ziggy Stardust and the dapper hedonist the Thin White Duke. He explored androgyny and otherworldliness, and sampled cultures from different continents (and galaxies) as his musical and visual palettes continued to evolve, always theatrical and deeply layered until his focus turned to his own looming end.

But while laying bare his demons for an audience, Mr. Bowie kept much of his life private, even after his death. Mr. Bowie’s family and representatives have opted not to disclose what kind of cancer he had, or where he died, preferring to let the icon speak, however abstractly, through the thinly veiled characters in his work, all versions of himself.

“The production of ‘Lazarus,’ and also this new album, ‘Blackstar,’ when you look at them both, you find so many lines and phrases that meant so much more than people knew before today,” said Ivo van Hove, the musical’s director, who was one of a handful of collaborators with knowledge of Mr. Bowie’s condition. “It’s like two testaments,” he said.

The singer’s recent collaborators described his work ethic as tireless throughout his last phase, which included simultaneous work on the album, its accompanying videos and the theater production, a nontraditional sequel to “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” the novel that inspired his 1976 film.

Mr. van Hove said that Mr. Bowie told him he was sick in November 2014, via Skype, when the show was in its early stages, but requested the information remain strictly confidential. (The director said in a Dutch radio interview on Monday that Mr. Bowie had liver cancer.)

“It was immediately clear it was very serious,” Mr. van Hove said, though he kept his word and did not tell the cast − including Michael C. Hall, who stars as the extraterrestrial Bowie stand-in, Thomas Newton: “Confidential is confidential.”

“It was very strange,” Mr. van Hove said of trying to convey Mr. Bowie’s intentions. Citing the title track, he continued: “The song is a man in total distress, and then finding a way out, in his imagination, so he could still be alive, in freedom, as a bluebird. It’s the message of the whole show.”

The New York Times, Published: JAN. 11, 2016
David Bowie (1947-2016) Allowed His Art to Deliver a Final Message
By Joe Coscarelli and Michael Paukson
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/12/arts/music/david-bowie-allowed-his-art-to-deliver-a-final-message.html



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Preserving our natural resources

A NEWLY-WED friend of mine recently chose a resort in the Royal Belum State Park as their honeymoon destination.

While others questioned the couple’s decision, as they could afford other exciting destinations overseas, they were adamant and spent a few nights at the exotic resort.

It was not a cheap affair either as their stay at a suite there cost them a few thousand ringgit. But for them, it was worth every sen.

“We tend to forget God’s gift to us. The lush greenery of our forest, with its rich biodiversity, is something that we should always appreciate,” the wife shared in our WhatsApp group, after the memorable honeymoon.

I have to admit that I really envy them, since my experience in the area last year was not as romantic.

It was during my first month in Perak that I joined a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) team to uncover illegal logging activities in the nearby Temenggor forest reserve.

While my newly-wed friend could stay at the luxury resort, I had to sleep in a dilapidated “kongsi” which was previously used by the foreign workers who worked at the logging site.

It was in a very bad condition, with some of the planks broken, and you could see snakes and other creepy crawlies underneath.

I could not sleep a wink when an MACC officer told me that one of the foreign workers had hung himself after he could not stand the pressure of working in the remote area for months. The MACC team was also forced to throw firecrackers to chase away a herd of elephants that were making their way to our place.

Despite all the challenges, we managed to locate several illegal logging sites and mass “timber graves” where the culprits buried the precious logs to dupe the enforcement team.

A few months later, I had the opportunity to join the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) in a project where they installed camera traps in the state park and surrounding areas.

Since the project had already started in 2012, Perhilitan had thousands of photos and videos of the wildlife captured by the cameras.

It was interesting to see the photos and videos as to watch the animals in the tropical forest is quite impossible as they tend to avoid human encounter.

Under the project, it was confirmed that 12 of the 14 large mammals in Peninsular Malaysia could be found in the area.

Perhilitan Perak director Rozidan Mohd Yasin told me that the camera traps had helped the authorities nab poachers looking for prized wildlife and forest resource, such as gaharu (agarwood).

But, the best trip to the Royal Belum State Park was the one organised by Tourism Malaysia Perak for the media fraternity here, where we had the opportunity to stay in a boat house and a luxury resort at Pulau Banding.

We also visited an Orang Asli village and learnt about the problems they were facing such as transportation and medical service.

All these trips were an eye-opener, not only for me but also to those who read the expose I uncovered and the articles on my experience.

For all the natural beauty that we can still enjoy in the forest reserves, we should never forget the sheer amount of time and energy spent by those behind the scenes to help preserve them. Imagine what will happen to the precious fauna and flora without the dedicated staff from various agencies and volunteers who work tirelessly to protect them.

Therefore, we must all play our role in whatever way possible. The least we can do is to help create awareness on the importance of preserving our forests, since there are those who unscrupulously look at them as the best place to get an income through logging and other activities that are detrimental to the environment.

On my part, I will continue exposing any wrongdoings that may jeopardise our natural heritage. But, this time around, I will bring my own tent if I have to sleep in the jungle!

New Straits Times, Updated: 9 January 2016 at 11:01 AM
Preserving our natural heritage;
Precious Asset:
All of us must play a role om protecting and preserving our forests

By M. Hamzah Jamaludin, NST’s Perak bureau chief
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/01/121291/preserving-our-natural-heritage


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A visit to Solo

Mr Yahoo visited Hat Yai, Thailand.
Meanwhile Mr Philip Golingai visited Solo in Indonesia.

ON Dec 28, I made a blusukan (impromptu visit) to the residence of Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in Solo.

Blusukan was one of Jokowi’s trademarks when he was the mayor of Solo, a city in central Java. When he became the mayor in 2005, he conducted almost daily unannounced spot-checks.

For example, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report, “every so often, Jokowi would perform a blusukan at 6am, still wearing shorts, to check the kiosks” in a newly opened market in Solo. The mayor also checked on the market office and if the administrators were not there, he would ring them up.

“Do you want to see the house of Jokowi?” Nanang Bagus, a driver of a taxi that I had chartered for 10 hours, asked in Bahasa Indonesia.

“Yes,” I said, because I was curious to see the house of the poor boy who became the President of Indonesia.

You can’t really see the architecture of the mansion as it is protected by a high fence. But from what I saw, it was grand. Across the street was a simple house that housed the Presidential guards. I took a photograph of the mansion and tweeted it with the message, “Jokowi’s house in Solo, Indonesia”.

Nanang, a Javanese who was born in Solo, told me the rags-to-riches tale of his President. When he proudly spoke of Jokowi, it was as if the President was one of them (the working class). It was as if the Jokowi story now represents the Indonesian dream.

Jokowi was born on June 21, 1961. His father was a wood seller. The family lived in rented houses that were built illegally on government land. Jokowi became somebody when he set up his own wood and cane factory.

“This is one of his businesses,” said the taxi driver, who drove me from Jokowi’s mansion to a nearby building.

The night before I was reading up on Jokowi on my Samsung tablet. I find it is more insightful reading about a place, event or a person when you are actually where the story happened.

I spent my holiday in Solo to visit the hometown of Jokowi and because Alila - one of my favourite hotel brands - had opened an urban resort there in November.

The building, composed of eight towers of different heights, is owned by Edijanto Joesoef, who comes from a family in the pharmaceutical business, Konimex. At 124 meters, it is the tallest building in Solo.

When Edijanto engaged famous Indonesian architect Budiman Hendropurnomo for the project, according to Alila Solo general manager Eleonore Petin, “no particular brief was given to the architect other than it needed to incorporate a certain amount of traditional Javanese elements. How these were interpreted was left completely up to the architect.”

On why Edijanto built the hotel, Petin said, “He decided to build in Solo as his family has been established here for generations. The hotel is very much a legacy for the future generations.”

Solo, according to Petin, is renowned for its exquisite batik textile production, its culinary tradition both on the street and at the royal court, as well as its performing arts from gamelan playing to wayang shows.

“As a matter of fact, Solo has one of the best schools for traditional performing arts, called the Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) and each year many international students come to study with the local masters,” she said. “The city is definitely a mix of industry and tourism. In terms of industry, Solo is an important hub for textile, furniture and pharmaceutical production.”

“Is there a Jokowi effect on Solo tourism?” I asked.

“There seems to be a national enthusiasm for visiting the President’s hometown but then again the number of domestic arrivals at the airport seems to have been increasing for the last five years,” said Petin.

“Is there any difference between Solo before and after Jokowi became President?” I asked.

“Whenever President Jokowi travels home for special occasions such as his son’s wedding or to celebrate the seventh month of pregnancy of his daughter-in-law, according to Javanese tradition, then there is national coverage of his activities in the city. President Jokowi has certainly helped put Solo more on the map!”

Coincidentally, on Boxing Day when I arrived in Solo from Yogyakarta, about an hour’s drive, the traffic in the city was more macet (Indonesian for traffic jam) than usual.

“Jokowi is in town,” said Widodo, a taxi driver from Yogyakarta, who was proud that he shared the same name as Jokowi.

The President, according to The Jakarta Post, was holding a mitoni, a traditional Javanese baby shower, to celebrate his daughter-in-law’s first pregnancy with an intimate family gathering at his house in Solo.

“Is Solo popular with Malaysian tourists? What are the tourist attractions?” I asked.

“Solo is growing in popularity with Malaysian tourists and they particularly enjoy going around town shopping for batik fabrics, antiques and collectibles as well as visiting the palaces and sampling the local delicacies,” said Petin.

“There is much more to Solo than meets the eye with beautiful mountainside temples, keris workshops, waterfalls, tea plantations and trekking.”

“What are your top five must do’s in Solo?” I asked.

“Shop for batik fabrics at Kampung Kauman and Danar Hadi. Browse collectibles and antiques at Pasar Triwindu,” she said.

“Watch the children rehearse traditional Javanese dances at Pura Mangkunegaran, one of two royal palaces in Solo. Pick up spices and dry snacks at Pasar Gede. Nibble on the famous serabi Notosuman.”

“Do you want to visit the batik shop where Jokowi buys his clothes?” asked Nanang, the taxi driver.

I was a bit tired – travelling with a seven-year-old daughter and two-year-old son can be physically challenging – so I gave a blusukan to the President’s (allegedly) favourite batik shop a miss.


The Star, Published: Saturday, 9 January 2016
In the steps of the President;
A visit to Solo is never complete without a visit to Jokowi’s mansion, and proud locals retelling his rags-to riches story.
By Philip Golingai
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/one-mans-meat/2016/01/09/in-the-steps-of-the-president/
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A visit to Hat Yai

Mr Yahho joined 2 nights 3 days tour organized by the residents association in one of the communities of Penang by one van with other 6 members.

The populous city of Hat Yai, the largest in Songkhla Province, is Southern Thailand’s commercial, shopping, and entertainment center. Hat Yai is located roughly 950 km (600 miles) from Bangkok and just 30 km (18.5 miles) from the Malaysian border. Consequently it is a popular destination for visitors from Malaysia, who enjoy dining on seafood and experiencing Hat Yai’s lively nightlife.

Regional attractions include Songkhla Lake (the largest in Thailand), an enormous reclining Buddha that visitors can walk inside, the Bhasawang Big Splash (a 15 meter long water slide), and the region’s most popular spectator sport, bullfighting.


About Hat Yai
http://www.tourismthailand.org/About-Thailand/Destination/Hat-Yai

Hat Yai is the largest town in Songkhla Province and the fourth largest in Thailand. It is frequented by many travelers passing through from and to Malaysia, lending it a cosmopolitan feel that is unique to the area. It is well known as a travel hub, a medical centre and a shopping haven for Thais. Hat Yai’s appeal is different from Koh Samui’s or Phuket’s and it is an extremely popular tourist spot for Malaysians and Singaporeans meaning that prices are subsequently high and that you won’t see many western faces here except as transit visitors.

Downtown Hat Yai is fairly unremarkable and is compartmentalized into shopping are entertainment areas. Getting around town is fairly easy and cheap by motorcycle taxi and even cabs are relatively cheap when compared to other tourist-orientated destinations in Thailand. English is not as widely spoken here as in say, Bangkok, and you will need a phrasebook or an English-Thai dictionary.

Hat Yai
http://www.thailand-guide.com/hat-yai/

When he visited there he is wondering a bit why some peoples are wearing the mask;

Parts of southern Thailand are being blanketed by the worst haze in years, which is threatening its lucrative tourist industry.

The bustling city of Hat Yai in Songkhla province has taken the biggest hit. At 3pm yesterday, the amount of PM10 particles, which are up to 10 microns in diameter, reached the critical level of 369 micrograms per cubic metre in the province.

"This is the worst I have experienced in my life," the city's 52-year- old deputy mayor Sumrit Boonrat told The Straits Times...

The annual haze, which shrouds countries in the region like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, is caused by illegal slash-and-burn practices mostly in Sumatra and Kalimantan. It has forced the closure of schools in Malaysia.

Indonesia is struggling to put out the fires even with international aid and experts warn that the situation could last beyond December.

Hat Yai used to be spared the worst of the haze but wind directions have caused the city to bear the brunt in recent days.

"Many people here are still not used to wearing face masks because the haze was not so bad in previous years," Mr Charonen Neenaum, 42, told The Straits Times by phone.

The avid jogger has decided to stop his exercise for now after a run on Wednesday evening left him more tired than usual and nursing a sore throat.

Straits Times: Published: OCT 23, 2015, 5:00 AM SGT
Hat Yai city is most badly hit, with flights delayed, threatening its tourist industry
By Tan Hui Yee Thailand Correspondent In Bangkok
http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/southern-thailand-hit-by-worst-haze-in-years


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2016年01月08日

Taiwan's 'Louvre' opens

TAIPEI - AFP : Two statues donated by actor Jackie Chan to a newly opened museum in Taiwan were splashed with paint and daubed with anti-China slogans, reflecting growing tensions over Beijing’s influence on the island.

The bronze dragon and horse heads sit in the garden of the new branch of Taipei’s famous National Palace Museum in the southern city of Chiayi and were defaced Wednesday night, the museum said.

They are replicas of high-profile ancient relics from the Qing Dynasty, seen on the mainland as emblematic of China’s past suffering under foreign invaders.

The animal heads were streaked with red paint and their bases daubed with the words “cultural united front” by two unidentified attackers, the museum said.

The slogan is a critical phrase used in Taiwan to refer to China’s attempts to bring the island back into its fold through cultural influence.

Taiwan is self-ruling after a split with China in 1949 after a civil war, but Beijing sees it as part of its territory awaiting unification.

Hong Kong actor Chan, who is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top political advisory body, has also drawn criticism in the past for pro-Beijing remarks.

The museum, world famous for its collection of Chinese artefacts, slammed the attacks as nonsensical.

“A large part of the National Palace Museum’s collection originates from the Qing imperial collection, that is Chinese cultural pieces,” the museum said in a statement.

“If exhibiting relics related to Chinese culture is considered ‘united front’, how can the (museum) continue to operate?”

Police have launched an investigation and said the attack was carried out by a man and a woman.

It is not the first time that statues have been the target of protesters fearful of warming ties between Taiwan and China.

Statues of Taiwan’s former ruler Chiang Kai-shek have also been repeatedly vandalised by young Taiwanese who equate his nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) party with mainland rule.

Relations between China and Taiwan have improved under current president Ma Ying-jeou’s KMT government, but he is set to be unseated in January elections as public sentiment has turned against the ruling party, partly for its China-friendly policies.

The vandalised heads have already been cleaned and are open to the public with extra security, the museum said.

The sculptures are copies of 12 zodiac statues that were looted from Beijing’s Old Summer Palace in 1860 by Anglo-French troops.

The attack came just three days after the venue opened its doors Monday.


New Straits Times: Updated: 31 December 2015 at 6:18 PM
Statues defaced in anti-China attack at new Taiwan museum
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/119879/statues-defaced-anti-china-attack-new-taiwan-museum


TAIPEI− AFP : Some of China’s most valuable historic artefacts went on display in Taiwan at a new branch of one of the world’s top museums, as the island pushes its credentials as a cultural destination.

The 9,000sq m venue in the southern city of Chiayi is an extension of Taipei’s famous National Palace Museum – one of the most popular museums in the world, drawing more than five million visitors each year.

The new attraction opens as Taiwan attempts to diversify its stagnating economy, with tourism a key area for growth, and officials hope the museum will lure more visitors to the rural south.

Yesterday’s opening comes after a catalogue of delays, due to flooding and disagreements with the venue’s original architect – it has taken 15 years to complete.

“We hope to attract up to 1.5 million visitors in the first year,” said Feng Ming-chu, director of both the Taipei and Chiayi museums.

The new venue will target domestic visitors from the south as well as foreign tourists, with the museum to be included in travel packages, said Feng.

The flagship Taipei museum boasts more than 655,000 Chinese artefacts spanning 7,000 years from the prehistoric Neolithic period to the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.

They were removed from the Beijing Palace Museum in the 1930s by China’s Nationalist government to prevent them falling into the hands of invading Japanese troops.

The collection was then transported to Taiwan by the Nationalists after they were defeated by Chinese communist forces and fled the mainland in 1949.

Feng was optimistic the new branch would attract visitors, despite the less well-known location.

She compared it to France’s Louvre museum opening an outpost in the former coal-mining town of Lens.

“We believe the target could be met if taking the French experience as an example,” she said.


Tuesday, 29 December 2015
Taiwan's 'Louvre' opens
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2015/12/29/taiwans-louvre-opens/


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It's Shakespeare's year

The world shares him and London claims him, but Stratford-on-Avon intends to spend 2016 celebrating William Shakespeare as their man: the bard of Avon, born in the Warwickshire market town in 1564, and who died there 400 years ago.

Stratford remained hugely important throughout Shakespeare’s life, argues Paul Edmondson, the head of learning and research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. “People have seen Shakespeare as a Dick Whittington figure, who turns his back on Stratford and his family, goes to London to earn his fortune and only comes back to die,” he said.

“[But Stratford is] where he bought land and property, where he kept his library, where he lived and read and thought. We are going to spend the year re-emphasising the importance of Shakespeare, the man of Stratford.”

The 17th-century diarist, antiquarian and gossip John Aubrey, born 11 years after Shakespeare died, was at pains to point out there was nothing so very special about the bard. Aubrey, university educated unlike Shakespeare, said that he acted “exceedingly well” and that “his Playes took well”.

The world has not agreed with Aubrey. The anniversary of the death of the man from Stratford, the most famous and the most performed playwright in the world, will be marked across Britain and the globe.

Macbeth is about to open in Singapore, Romeo and Juliet in Brussels. Shakespeare’s Globe is completing the first world tour in the history of theatre, in which it has taken Hamlet to almost every country – North Korea is still holding out. The production will arrive back in London for the anniversary weekend of 23-24 April. They are also creating a 37-screen pop-up cinema, one screen to showcase each of Shakespeare’s plays, along the South Bank.

The National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and virtually every other theatre production company in the country will be marking the anniversary. Interpretations will range from the resolutely traditional to the Brighton-based Spymonkey’s Complete Deaths, a romp through the 74 deaths – 75 including a fly squashed in Titus Andronicus – by stabbing, poisoning, smothering and smashing across the plays. There will also be hundreds of lectures, recitals, international academic conferences, films, concerts, operas and major exhibitions.

For a man famous in his own lifetime there is little documentary evidence for Shakespeare’s life and times. The plays would scarcely have survived if his friends and fellow actors had not gathered together every scrap of every play they could find – drafts, prompt scripts, scribbled actors’ parts, and 17 plays not known in any other version – into the precious First Folio published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death.

The actor Mark Rylance has called it his favourite book in the world, and most of the surviving First Folios will be on display – including those belonging to the British and Bodleian libraries, and a tattered copy recently discovered in France.

Some of the most precious surviving documents will be gathered together in an exhibition at Somerset House in London, opening in February and jointly organised by the National Archives and King’s College London, including four of his six known signatures, which are all slightly different.

By Me, William Shakespeare will include his will, the court papers relating to the audacious move when Shakespeare and his fellow actors dismantled a theatre on the north side of the Thames and rebuilt it as the Globe on the South Bank, and accounts showing payments from the royal treasury for Boxing Day performances of James I and Queen Anne.

The outgoing Globe director, Dominic Dromgoole, recently jokily claimed Shakespeare as a true Londoner – albeit conceding “some spurious claim” by Stratford-on Avon. Stratford, however, will be insisting that the town made and educated Shakespeare His old school room is being restored with a £1.4m Heritage Lottery grant, to open as a permanent visitor attraction.

Shakespeare bought the splendid New Place, the second best house in the town, where he died according to literary legend on St George’s Day, 23 April, the same day as his birth. “You don’t buy a house like New Place and not live there,” Paul Edmondson said. “The general public and many academics have consistently underestimated the importance of Stratford to Shakespeare.”

Edmondson believes that after Shakespeare bought the house in 1597, all his thinking time was spent there, and that the late plays, including The Tempest, were at least planned in his library and probably written there.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust describes New Place as “the jewel in the crown of the 400th anniversary celebrations”, but in truth it is more a mount with a gaping hole where the gem should be.

Shakespeare’s house was demolished 300 years ago, and the house that replaced it, probably incorporating some of the original fabric, was flattened in 1759 by an irascible clergyman, Francis Gastrell, in a row over taxes. He had already cut down Shakespeare’s mulberry tree, under which the writer is said to have sat and worked, because he was irritated by all the tourists peering into his garden.

The gap in the Stratford streetscape has never been filled, but a five-year archaeology project has peeled back the years, and the news that Shakespeare’s kitchen had been found in the partly surviving cellars went round the world. The whole site is being redisplayed for the anniversary, with the foundations marked and the garden restored.

“Without Stratford,” Edmondson said, “There would have been no Shakespeare.”

The Guardian, Friday 1 January 2016 10.00 GMT
Shakespeare's 400th anniversary: 'man of Stratford' to be celebrated in 2016;
Death of most performed playwright in the world to be marked in Stratford-on-Avon, London and across the globe

Photo: The 15th-century classroom at the King Edward VI School in Stratford-on-Avon, where Shakespeare was educated.
By Maev Kennedy
http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/jan/01/shakespeares-400th-anniversary-man-of-stratford-to-be-celebrated-in-2016


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a narrative in China

BEIJING : Farmers are illegally growing genetically modified corn in China's northeast, said environmental non-profit Greenpeace on Wednesday, in a report that may generate further distrust of the government's ability to ensure a safe food supply.

Beijing has spent billions of dollars to develop GMO crops that it hopes will ensure food supplies for its 1.4 billion people but has not yet approved commercial cultivation amid deep-seated anti-GMO sentiment.

The Greenpeace report seems to confirm concerns that Beijing will be unable to supervise the planting of GMO crops once commercial cultivation is permitted, leading to widespread contamination of the food chain with GM varieties.

In its report, Greenpeace said 93 percent of samples taken last year from corn fields in five counties in Liaoning province, part of China's breadbasket, tested positive for GMO contamination.

Furthermore, almost all of the seed samples taken from grain markets and samples of corn-based foods at supermarkets in the area also tested positive.

"It is very likely that much of the illegal GE corn has already entered grain storage warehouses, wholesale and retail markets across the country, ultimately ending up in citizens' food," said Greenpeace in a report.

While Greenpeace said it was not clear how the GMO corn seeds got into the marketplace, it has long been alleged that GMO plants being tested in field trials have been illegally sold to farmers for commercial use.

Such reports have intensified public opposition to the technology, with some anti-GMO campaigners going as far as suing the government over the failure to disclose information about its approvals for imported GMO crops and plans to allow domestic cultivation.

Among the six corn seed strains that tested positive in the Liaoning seed market, three have not been certified by China's agriculture ministry, while three others were certified as conventional seeds and therefore had been contaminated by GMO varieties, said the organization.

The agriculture ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the Greenpeace report. The ministry said last year it was changing regulations to increase supervision of biotech products under development.

The GMO corn strains identified in the survey belong to international companies Monsanto, Syngenta and Du Pont Pioneer, said Greenpeace.

DuPont Pioneer said it does not sell any biotech seed in China in accordance with the law and could not speculate on the source of any unauthorized biotech crops.

"Intellectual property right is a concern for us in any market because it's important for assuring farmers that they are getting what they purchase and for companies to recoup our investment so we can continue investing in new technologies," said a company spokeswoman.

Neither Monsanto nor Syngenta responded to emailed requests for comment.

Greenpeace blamed an "extremely lax and disorganized" seed market management system for the production and sale of illegal seed varieties.

It recommended the government investigate all corn breeding companies and destroy illegal GMO seeds. It called for annual inspections of crops in north China during the sowing season, and tougher supervision of GMO crop research and cultivation. It said farmers should be compensated for their losses if GMO crops are destroyed.


Reuters, Updated: Wed Jan 6, 2016 10:35pm EST
Chinese farmers are illegally growing GMO corn: Greenpeace
By Dominique Patton

THERE is a narrative in China that illustrates the interdependence of trade between Asean countries and China.

The little story, told in a programme produced by the state television broadcaster, goes like this: 36g of palm oil from Indonesia are needed to deep-fry three packets of instant noodles that would be consumed by Chinese customers.

The bio waste generated from producing the palm oil, meanwhile, can power 200 five-watt energy-saving light bulbs in Singapore for an hour.

To China, Asean is its “close neighbour connected by mountains and waters”. Collectively, the 10 nations in Asean are China’s third largest trading partner, while China is Asean’s largest trading partner.

In 2014, the two-way trade reached US$480bil (RM2 trillion) and investment was valued at US$130bil (RM558bil), with both sides aspiring to elevate the figures to US$1 trillion (RM4.3 trillion) and US$150bil (RM644bil) respectively by 2020.

To help realise this goal, China and Asean sealed a deal during the Asean summit in Kuala Lumpur to upgrade their Free Trade Area in November.

The geographical proximity makes Asean countries the first participants of China’s 21st century Maritime Silk Road (MSR), an initiative to foster connectivity and collaboration with countries along the route.

One of the flagship aspects of Belt and Road is railway connectivity. Last year, China embarked on rail projects with three Asean countries as part of Beijing’s ambition to connect China and Asean in order to facilitate the movements of goods and people.

In October, China won the bidding for the first high-speed rail (HSR) project in South-East Asia – the Jakarta-Bandung HSR in Indonesia.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the joint Lao-Chinese railway was held in December, followed by another ceremony to launch the Thai-Chinese railway project for two medium-speed lines.

Cooperation between ports is another key area of the MSR.

Malaysia, which is China’s largest trading partner in Asean, forged a port alliance with China during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s official visit to Malaysia in November.

China-Asean Business Council executive president Xu Ningning said Port Klang, which is the world’s 13th busiest port, can become an important locale for Chinese to “go out”, referring to China’s policy that encourages its enterprises to invest overseas.

“Malaysian investment in China is still higher than Chinese investment in Malaysia at the moment. I’d suggest Malaysia step up its promotional activities on investment opportunities to attract Chinese enterprises to Malaysia,” he commented on the sidelines of a China-Asean forum on the MSR in Beijing recently.

Former minister counsellor (economic affairs) in the Malaysian Embassy in China Datuk Ong Chong Yi pointed out that the two-way trade between Malaysia and China, which has reached US$ 102bil in 2014, accounted for one-fifth of the China-Asean trade.

Ong, who had just assumed the role as the CEO of China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (Guangxi) Development Co Ltd, said once the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and other multilateral or bilateral trade agreements are put in place, Malaysia would be an ideal destination to help China to enter other markets.

To provide capital support and drive infrastructure projects, China has set up the US$40bil (RM171.6bil) Silk Road Fund and a US$10bil (RM42.9bil) China-Asean Investment Cooperation Fund (CAF).

CAF CEO Li Wen said the fund, which focuses on investment opportunities in infrastructure, energy and natural resources in Asean, has invested in 10 projects in eight countries since its establishment five years ago.

Silk Road Fund Co Ltd managing director Luo Yang said the fund is interested in collaborating with Asean countries under the framework of connectivity.

A discussion of China-Asean relations will surely involve the South China Sea territorial row, which sees China and four Asean neighbours – Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines – laying overlapping claims on the busy passageway.

While China has carried out extensive construction on the Spratly Islands (which it calls Nansha), it said it preferred direct consultation with other claimants to tackle the problem, and rejected the Philippines’ move to file claims with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea over the dispute.

“The dispute is only temporary. As long as China and countries along the MSR have enough goodwill, political wisdom and sincerity, it will be solved through friendly negotiation,” Bai Tian, the deputy director of Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Asian Affairs Department, said.

He added: “South China Sea will be a sea of peaceful cooperation and prosperity.”

It is important to note that despite the territorial disagreement, all parties are still engaging each other actively in economic cooperation. For example, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines have all joined the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as founding members.

This year, China and Asean will mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations.

A series of commemorative activities, including a summit, is expected to be held to mark the milestone and draw the region and China closer to each other.


The Star, Published: Friday, 8 January 2016
Connected by mountains and waters;
Relations between Asean and China are already strong, but expect them to draw even closer as they mark the 25th anniversary of dialogue relations.
By Tho Xin Yi



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China's War With Japan 1937 - 1945

China's War With Japan 1937 - 1945 written by Rana Mitter is starting the story like this in Prologue: City On Fire:

In the spring of 1939 Europe was still, albeit uneasily, at peace.
But some 7000 kilometers to the east, the Second World War was already well under way.

On 3 May the sky was clear above the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing.
The weather was sweltering.
Not for nothing is Chongqing known as one of China's 3 furnaces', where temperatures regularly rise to 40 degrees or higher.
At noon Zhang Xiluo, a reporter for the Xinminbao newspaper, was getting ready for lunch.

In the bustling city around him, the locals were going about their usual business.
On the docks, stevedores hauled boxes on and off the ships that piled the Yangtze.
Passengers descending from the boats would be mobbed by dozens of sedan-chair bearers.
Chongqing is famous as a shancheng, a 'mountain city' - far better to be carried up the steep hills that separate the river from the upper town, if you could afford it.

In the markets, traders and their clients bargained for rice, vegetables and meat.
The number of customers was greater than at any time in the city's history.
In October 1937 the Nationalist government of China had announced that it could no longer defend the existing capital at Nanjing to the east against a Japanese invasion that had begun 3 months earlier.
Chongqing therefore became the temporary capital.
Millions of refugees' had fled westward, and Chongqing's population swelled...

Suddenly, as he was sitting down to eat, Zhnag heard a sound whose terrifying significance he knew well...
Half an hour passed.
Then an even more urgent siren began howling in short, continuous bursts,
The last few people left in the newspaper office grabbed their possessions and ran down into the shelter.


pp 1-2
Penguin Books published in 2014

Mr Yahho wants all his reader to buy the book to read.
Furthermore he wants all of you to read again his opinion as under (Mr Yahho has the question why he is still deputy PM in Japan and why Japanese people allow him to stay in this political stage):

Constitutional reform à la Hitler? That seemed to be the case made by Japan's finance minister, Taro Aso, earlier this week, when he suggested that his country might learn from the Nazis' technique of undermining the Weimar constitution by stealth, if it wants to change the American-designed postwar constitution that prevents it rearming.

On Thursday, Aso withdrew his remarks. But they were not an isolated incident. Japan and China have been in a war of words for over a year, punctuated by alarming sorties by warships and fighter jets, over the question of sovereignty over the barren islands in the East China Sea that Tokyo calls Senkaku and Beijing the Diaoyu. Both countries are in the latest stage of a crisis that began in 1937 and has never truly been resolved: Japan's invasion of China, and the unfinished business of a peace settlement in 1945 that failed to create a lasting framework for stability.

The facts of that war bear remembering. On 7 July, 1937, fighting broke out between local Chinese troops and a Japanese garrison near the Marco Polo bridge, on the outskirts of Beijing. Within weeks, the fighting had expanded across China's territory. The Japanese captured China's major cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou, and notoriously Nanjing, where a massacre of thousands of Chinese civilians took place. Some 14 million or more Chinese were killed during the war, and some 80 million became refugees. Yet, despite the huge toll that the conflict cost the country, China refused to surrender, resisting until the defeat of Japan in 1945.

Nearly 70 years later, neither country has fully come to terms with the war and what it means for its own politics both domestic and international. In China, the war still sits centrally in the national culture. In Nanjing, a sombre museum-cum-shrine recalls the horror of the massacre that devastated the captured capital city in December 1937. Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of videogamers, in multiplayer online games, compete to defeat Japanese armies recreated in pixels. But the view of the war in China is still heavily distorted.

During the cold war, under Mao Zedong's rule, it was officially "forgotten" that much of the resistance, including the bulk of the fighting, was carried out by the Nationalist government under Chiang Kai-shek, rather than by the Communists. For example, in the desperate battle for Shanghai in autumn 1937, some 187,000 troops were killed – all serving in the Nationalist armies. Yet after Mao's victory in 1949, Chiang and his rump regime fled to Taiwan, and it became impossible on the mainland to suggest that they had any role in winning the war.

This situation began to change as the cold war thawed. Reunification with Taiwan was on the agenda, and it became a little easier to speak positively of some of the wartime efforts of the former regime. But the limits remain strict to this day. Official institutions in China still speak of the leading role of the Chinese Communist party in fighting the invaders. Wartime collaboration with the Japanese, which was widespread, is rarely discussed.

In Chinese public culture, the war against Japan has become a melodrama, in which good and bad are defined in stark and often cartoon-like terms. This has encouraged a zero-sum view of Sino-Japanese relations that has raised tensions in the region. Yet the Japanese political sphere has to take its share of responsibility. In recent years, a particular strain of thought has gradually received greater respectability in some quarters: the idea that Japan's war in Asia was not an invasion but a "liberation" from the yoke of white imperialism.

This view has become embedded in Japanese popular culture through the enormously popular graphic novels of Yoshinori Kobayashi. His 1998 novel Senso-ron (On War) portrayed the Japanese army as liberators of their Asian brethren; it sold some 650,000 copies. Of course, Japan is a democracy with a lively public sphere, and there are many who condemn the view that Japan's wartime behaviour can be whitewashed, from leftist teachers' unions to members of the governing LDP party, who see the new nationalism as an embarrassing nostalgia for a dark part of Japan's history that hurts the country's international image. But the growth of Japanese revisionism on the wartime experience, if not checked, could inflame tensions further between China and Japan.

Having spent a decade researching the origins and effects of that earlier war between China and Japan, I'm certain that the confrontation between the two countries today is not yet as dangerous as that of 1937. But the similarities are real and too close for comfort. There is no effective multilateral organisation in Asia able to resolve disputes such as those over the islands in the East China Sea.

And the crisis of 1937 was triggered by two countries with strong and contrasting ideological visions that exploded into war as the result of a small, almost trivial incident. Today's politicians need to be extremely careful not to make the same mistakes. Comments like those of foreign minister, Taro Aso, are profoundly unhelpful in the creation of a more stable Asia-Pacific.


The Guardian, Updated: Friday 2 August 2013 16.59 BST
The Japanese finance minister's Nazi comments hark back to a dark past;
Taro Aso's comments about rearmament echo a rising Japanese military revisionism which could inflame tensions with China

Opinion by Prof Rana Mitter
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/02/japanese-finance-minister-taro-aso-nazi-comments


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2016年01月07日

One Child

The Chinese language has no word for “brother” or “sister”. Instead, you are a jiejie (older sister) or meimei (younger sister); a gege (older brother) or didi (younger brother). Hierarchy and family relationships have been central to Chinese society for millennia. But in the past four decades, this central fact has changed utterly. For the majority of the population, siblings have become a theoretical concept. In 1980, China implemented perhaps the boldest experiment in social control of a population in world history: it declared that, with some important exceptions, Chinese couples would be permitted to have only one child each.

This demographic demand was a sharp reversal of existing policy. During the era of Mao, the Chinese were encouraged to have as many children as possible: in the Chairman’s words, “the more people we have, the greater our force”. But by the 1970s, as the economy settled down and the population kept growing, planners became worried that China’s population would become too large to support itself. At the time, neo-Malthusianism was in fashion around the world: the scientist Paul Ehrlich argued in his book The Population Bomb (1968) that “in the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programmes embarked upon now”. China’s leaders may not have read Ehrlich, but their own demographers promoted a similar message. And unlike the leaders of almost all the other highly populated countries of the time, China had a tool that it could use in response: authoritarian coercion.

Mei Fong’s vivid and thoroughly researched book tells the story of the consequences of China’s decision to restrict its population size. Her story begins with her taking a stifling ride on a packed train to Sichuan in 2008 with a group of peasant farmers returning home to find out if their only children have been killed in the terrible earthquake that hit the province that year. She also ventures to remote villages where local officials are charged by the central government with maintaining the one-child policy, leading to cases of forced abortions. One such case in 2012, where a woman named Feng Jianmei was held down and injected forcibly with an abortifacient, even caused a scandal within China and a declaration by the national authorities that they would review the operation of the policy.

Fong also takes us inside the decisions that led to the formation of the policy. In the late 1970s, the Chinese government decided that demographics was in fact rocket science and set a group of cyberneticists and engineers to ponder the problem. They decided that China’s ideal population size was 700 million and set out a linear model to show how it could be achieved by restricting births. As one of them put it in a 1988 book: “Since human beings appeared in the world millions of years ago, they have been battling with nature. Now they have finally conquered it with their wisdom and strength.” Unfortunately, the rocket engineers failed to consult any social scientists who might have pointed out that regulating family size is not the same as tweaking the measurements on ailerons or boosters.

As a result of social changes that the mathematicians failed to see, China is now getting older rapidly. On current projections, 34% of China’s population will be over 60 by 2050 (it’s around 12% now). Families have spent tremendous amounts of time and money in investing in the future of the one child who will be a significant part of their pension plan. No wonder that in 2015, the Chinese government announced that the policy would change to allow all families up to two children.

Yet as Fong points out, the policy may well have been unnecessary in the first place. Many developing countries have seen significant reductions in the population as they become richer, healthier and more urbanised. Japan is currently in staggering demographic decline (more than a fifth of the population is over 65) without any coercion at all; economic decline and anomie appears to have done the trick, along with a refusal to allow much immigration. In Shanghai, families have been permitted to have two children for some years (and in fact the policy nationwide always had huge numbers of loopholes). Nonetheless, Shanghai families are overwhelmingly choosing to stick to one child; the high cost of everything from property to education makes this more economically logical.

Fong doesn’t examine in detail the way that the concept of “overpopulation” has been questioned since the 1970s, but many factors have undermined it; for instance, China is a major trading partner with the world and has no need to be self-sufficient in food, and the green revolution in crops meant the spread of high-yield grains. Today there is much more concern about the sustainability of our lifestyles – can every Chinese or, indeed, American, own a car with the pollution that that implies? – rather than on the total number of people per se. Nor is China’s so-called demographic crisis insoluble, as it could be addressed by the encouragement of large-scale immigration into China; economically plausible but culturally difficult.

Still, the consequences of the one-child policy will affect not just China but the wider world economy for decades to come. Fong’s fine book is a moving and at times harrowing account of the significance of decisions taken by a small coterie of men (no women) with too much faith in science and ideology, and too little in humanity.

Book of the Day: The Guardian, Updated: Monday 4 January 2016 07.00 GMT
One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment by Mei Fong review – a harrowing examination of social control;
This moving account of the single-child policy reveals its impact on China and the world

Book Reviewed By Rana Mitter, professor of the history and politics of modern China at Oxford University and presents Night Waves on Radio 3.
His latest book is China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/04/one-child-story-china-most-radical-experiment-mei-fong-review



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Mountain Climbers' stories

PETALING JAYA: Surintan Rama-naidoo was diagnosed with stage-2 lymphoma last year, but that did not deter him from ending the year with a bang.

The telecommunications graduate, who will turn 26 in August, has been cancer free for about two months.

On Dec 20, after completing his chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, he climbed Mount Kinabalu.

It took him about eight hours over a span of two days to reach the highest peak in Malaysia.

“I love the outdoors and even before I was diagnosed, I loved going jungle trekking and exploring nature.

“Last year started out really bad for me so I wanted to end it with something I love. It was a personal gift to myself, like a reward.”

Surintan said the most difficult part of scaling Mount Kinabalu was the cold and windy weather.

“It was very difficult, but I told myself that I have had so many complications so I could get through this and kept pushing myself.”

He said although he does not break down easily, the view from the peak of the mountain brought tears to his eyes.

“During my treatments when I was so weak, I ended up crying but I promised myself that the next time I did so, it would be for achieving something for myself. And I did that at Mount Kinabalu,” he added.

In January last year, Surintan went for a routine pre-employment medical check up and some abnormalities showed up in his X-ray results.

There was a white coloured ball on his right chest and the doctor referred him to a specialist.

“I went to the National Heart Institute, did a CT scan and I was diagnosed with stage two lymphoma, on the brink of stage three.

Lymphoma is cancer which begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system in the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and other parts of the body.

He said the cancer had by then spread to his neck and chest.

The news turned Surintan’s world topsy turvy. Before being diagnosed, the vegetarian exercised regularly and had no history of cancer in his family.

“After two weeks, I told myself that there was no point in crying over spilt milk so I started researching further about the treatments and I started having some hope.”

Surintan started chemotherapy in February and completed six cycles in August. He began 15 sessions of radiotherapy treatments at the end of October and completed his last session in November, on the eve of Deepavali.

“Last year’s Deepavali celebration was huge,” he said.

During his treatment, Suritan suffered from complications such as chemotherapy burns and could hardly lift his hands.

He said his family members, especially his parents and three younger sisters, were his pillars of strength.

“My parents did not shed tears when I was first diagnosed. They put up a brave front because they wanted to give me strength, but I found out later that they cried behind my back,” he said.

Surintan, who is now looking for a job, said he hoped to travel the world and hike other mountains and also Machu Picchu, the Inca ruins in the Andes Mountains of Peru.


The Star, Published: Wednesday, 6 January 2016
Cancer survivor scales Mount Kinabalu as reward
By Hemananthani Sivanandam
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/01/06/cancer-survivor-scales-mount-kinabalu-as-reward/

Melissa Arnot, who hopes to become the first American woman to climb Mount Everest without the aid of oxygen support, said Tuesday her "heart is broken" over the deadly avalanche on the world's tallest peak.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday triggered an avalanche which killed at least 18 people on Mount Everest.

"My heart is broken for all the loss and all the impact on rescuers in the last few days," Arnot said on Instagram. "We are trying to see now where our team can best be used and trying to adjust our reality to this new one."

Arnot, 31, also posted a photo Tuesday which was taken before the avalanche as she and others descended from Lobuche Peak − where they were sleeping to acclimatize to high altitudes.

The climber said on the photo-sharing website that she and her team were not in any danger during the avalanche and asked people to donate to The Juniper Fund, which supports local mountain workers and their families.

"Thank you all for your support, not only for me but also for this community and this country that I hold so close to my heart," she wrote.

Arnot had said she initially planned to make her final ascent in mid-May. While mountaineers have said the avalanche means the end of this year's climbing season, Arnot has not announced whether she plans to cancel her attempt this year.

Arnot tried to climb Mount Everest in 2014, but the effort was derailed after an avalanche in April of that year killed 16 sherpas who were trying to carve out a route for climbers. Until the most recent avalanche, that disaster was the deadliest day recorded on the mountain.


NBC News, Updated: Apr 29 2015, 6:38 am ET
Nepal Earthquake: Climber Melissa Arnot Says Her 'Heart Is Broken' After Everest Avalanche
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/nepal-earthquake/climber-melissa-arnot-says-her-heart-broken-after-nepal-quake-n350146

Melissa has made her life about exploring the beautiful mountains of the world. She is passionate about climbing and pushing her own limits, but her ultimate joy comes from sharing that journey with others, both while helping them push their limits and get to their own summit and while sharing the stories from some of the beautiful places in the world.

A professional mountain guide, working internationally since 2004, Melissa has stood on the top of many of the worlds most stunning peaks while assisting clients and pushing her own goals. She has stood atop the summit of Mount Everest 5 times.

Working as a remote site EMT and wilderness medicine instructor for the past twelve years, Melissa brings together her desire to care for and teach people. With safety as the driving ethic behind every adventure she embarks on, Melissa has made her mark as a caring guide and passionate adventurer.


About Melissa Arnot
http://www.melissaarnot.com/aboutmelissa/


When Melissa Arnot, Adam Russell and Jon Mancuso headed for the remoteness of Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, it was to cleanse the events on Everest with a wilderness climbing experience. But Alaska can be an unforgiving place. Instead of a quiet glacier camp and rejuvenating alpine climb on 14,831-foot Mt. Bear in the St. Elias range, her small self-supported team experienced sketchy crevasse-ridden navigation, multiple life-threatening situations and a storm that held them captive until they ran out of food. Snowbound Alaska captures their brutal alpine climbing experience. −LYA Editor

Camera by Jon Mancuso, Edit by Mancuso and Karl Archer


Posted on December 15, 2015
Snowbound Alaska with Melissa Arnot
http://blog.eddiebauer.com/2015/12/15/snowbound-alaska-with-melissa-arnot-part-one/


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Out of the dark

Please refer to this Mr Yahho's Blog under the title of "Sunny escape from the cold", diary of January 4, 2016.

Here is another story from Nordic country as under:

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Each year, Old Man Winter drops his curtain of darkness over the Nordic countries, not lifting it again until April when spring bathes the region in sunlight and nature comes back to life.

At this time of year, when night falls as early as 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) and lasts until about 9:00 am (0800 GMT) in Oslo, Helsinki and Stockholm, people ward off the gloom by lighting up their lives as many ways as they can.

Even daytime brings only a slightly lighter shade of grey during the darkest weeks before the winter solstice in December, when skies are often overcast in the three capitals.

Daylight is even more elusive farther north. In the Swedish mining town of Kiruna above the Arctic Circle, the sun never rises around the winter solstice.

"Everything is grey, grey, grey! And so cold!" At 50, Birgitta Ohrling has never gotten used to Stockholm's long dark winters.

Unable to do anything about the weather outside, the bubbly blonde started her own Nirvana wellness centre in the Swedish capital, creating an artificial summer to chase away the winter doldrums.

For 20 euros ($22) an hour, visitors to the "sunroom" can bask in warming rays from special light therapy lamps, as the mercury hits a balmy 35 degrees C (95 F) -- a far cry from the freezing temperatures outside.

The heat is only half of what you'd experience in a hot sauna, but the sunchairs, the wall mural of a sandy beach, and the sound of waves gently lapping the shores help create an aura of warmth and calm, and work wonders at fighting off the blues.

Visitors leaving the centre step outside looking a little dazed, rosy-cheeked as if waking from a long sleep yet invigorated and ready to face more of the dark winter.

The high dosage of lux -- a unit for measuring illumination -- in the centre's special lamps help chase away the sleep hormone melatonin, giving people more energy.

Up to 90 percent of Swedes suffer to some degree from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression. The condition is characterised by sadness, lethargy, and increased alcohol and sweets consumption, according to Baba Pendse, a psychiatrist specialised in the disorder.

City bathed in white lights
Many in the region try to counter the effects of the enveloping darkness with light therapy sessions or by taking cures of extra vitamin D, which is essential for growth and fighting off cardiovascular disease.

In November, Stockholm registered only 46 hours of sunlight, just over half the amount in Paris but still nine times more than the paltry five hours registered in Stockholm in November last year.

But not everyone needs a special cure to combat the darkness: for most people, regular lunchtime strolls or weekend cross-country skiing sessions are enough to get their fill of light.

The Nordic passion for decorative white lights during Advent -- the four Sundays leading up to Christmas -- also helps most people charge their feel-good batteries.

Starting in late November, stars and special Advent candlesticks glow in almost every window in Stockholm homes, shops and offices, while facades, trees and even tree trunks are swept in strings of white electric lights.

Large moose and reindeer light sculptures illuminate the city's central squares, as everyone waits for the first real snowfall to amplify the natural winter light.

On December 13, Sweden's love affair with light reaches its pinnacle as the country celebrates Saint Lucia Day.

The festival of light honours an Italian martyr whose name is derived from "Lux", the Latin word for light, and who was meant to chase away the dark spirits on the longest night of the year under the Julian calendar.

To this day, young girls across the country compete for the honour of being a "Lucia".

Joined by their attendants, the Lucias rise early in the morning and, wearing a crown of candles in their hair and long white robes with a red sash, they sing Christmas carols at concerts and processions in churches, schools and public locations around the country.

So it should come as no surprise that hordes of light-deprived Swedes each year choose to celebrate Christmas and New Year's Eve ... in sundrenched spots like Thailand and the Canary Islands.

More than 300,000 Swedes leave the country for the holidays each year.
France 24, Updated: 27 December 2015 - 06H25
Darkness begone! Lights ward off Nordic winter blues
by Camille Bas-Wohlert, AFP


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2016年01月06日

Martin Vengadesan

IN a way, this has happened before. The usually all-powerful Kuomintang suddenly finds its voter base split by a third party candidate and this allows the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to win the Presidential vote. That’s how Chen Shui-Bian won the 2000 presidential election, with ex-Kuomintang man James Soong coming in second, ahead of the “official” candidate Lien Chan.

This time around, Soong is at it again, and the DPP’s Tsai Ing-Wen (*) holds a huge lead ahead of Kuomintang’s Etric Chu with polls due on Jan 16.

The implications of another DPP presidency are manifold, with the People’s Republic of China making its displeasure clear in advance. In November, Chinese President Xi Jinping and incumbent Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou beamed for cameras around the world, and such images are unlikely to be repeated if Tsai becomes Taiwan’s first female head of state.

While the growing power of China in the region is indubitable, there certainly have been the odd domestic hiccup like Hong Kong’s umbrella revolution in late 2014.

Taiwan’s own volatile politics has always made Beijing uncomfortable. Chen’s controversial period in power even included a re-election in 2004 that was affected by a shooting incident at the presidential convoy, which opponents accused him of having staged. And as recently as the last couple of years, the Sunflower Student movement and the anti-black box movement have both harnessed Taiwanese opposition to China.

As a colourful campaign reaches a crescendo, it remains to be seen if other personalities such as Wayne Chiang, great-grandson of founding father Chiang Kai-Shek, death metal vocalist Freddy Lim or ex-Tiananmen Square dissident Wu’er Kaixi can make an impact.

While China and Taiwan present a potential banana skins in the world of international diplomacy, we can expect to see more jostling for influence even within our own Asean region.

I was at forum recently at which leftists from around the region made a convincing case that Asean is being groomed to serve the needs of competing powers like the US and China.

Sonny Melencio of the Party of the Labouring Masses of the Philippines believes that political and economic activity in the region are being controlled more and more by big-business interests.

“The likes of US and China are keeping watch with a major role to play and lately the talk is of integrating the economies of developing countries like Myanmar and Cambodia. This is a neo-liberal globalisation. Countries are being asked to open their economies to the big multi-national corporations.”

Indeed, it can be argued that while pushing for media-friendly faces like Ninoy Aquino, Jokowi and Aung San Suu Kyi, the common man in Asean could be on the losing end of regional realignments.

“The interests of working people of individual nations could easily be subverted. Labourers are employed on contracts, often as migrant workers. This means no strong unions and good working conditions.”

As alliances rise and fall around the region, it’s important to note that little changes in far flung places could have a ripple affect on us all.


The Star, Published: Sunday, 3 January 2016
Taiwan to take another turn;
A change of regime in Taipei could affect relationships in the region.
By Martin Vengadesan
Star Online news editor Martin Vengadesan remains fascinated by the possibility of a shake-up in Taiwan.
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/watching-the-world/2016/01/03/taiwan-to-take-another-turn-a-change-of-regime-in-taipei-could-affect-relationships-in-the-region/

(*)
TAIPEI (Reuters) - The leader of Taiwan's independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), an organization loathed by rulers in giant neighbor China, was top of the last opinion poll on Tuesday before a polling blackout begins ahead of the Jan. 16 elections...

Leader of Taiwan DPP, party hated by China, heads last election poll
By Reuters, 21 hours ago
http://news.yahoo.com/leader-taiwan-dpp-party-hated-china-leads-last-065621550.html

Shall we read another comment by Martin Vengadesan, Star Online news editor, about the Velvet Revolution:

THE Velvet Revolution is one of my favourite moments in political history. I was transfixed by the rapid transformation of Czechoslovakia from a lifeless police state under Gustav Husak into the vibrant democracies of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The lessons of the bloodless move from dictatorship to democracy has lessons for many parts of the world.

When I spoke to Slovakian Deputy Prime Minister Miroslav Lajcak earlier this year, I couldn’t help but allude to that time, and so it was when I met with the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Malaysia Rudolf Hykl earlier this month, that those heady days of the fall of the Berlin Wall and crumbling of the Iron Curtain soon became a topic of conversation.

“In 1989, I followed the events very closely. It is a time even now that I remember very fondly,” Hykl recalls.

“There was the feeling of excitement, a feeling of promise and euphoria, the opening of all kinds of things. Travel which had been restricted, now became open, and people poured across national borders. There were peaceful demonstrations by people to organise political movements. Even more important, the country began returning to institutions such as the European Union and Nato.”

Back then, Hykl himself was in his mid-twenties and didn’t want to miss out on the excitement.

“I joined the foreign ministry in 1990, but I wasn’t in a rush to move out. I wanted to stay in the country because it was such an interesting time. Every day, there were new developments. We had to set up a stock exchange. There was an unprecedented transfer of state-owned industries to private hands. There were open elections and representative democracy. And this was all done in a systematic and controlled and peaceful manner.”

Ironically, while my perception of Soviet-era Czechoslovakia was coloured by a bleak Prague, Hykl considers himself to have grown up in beautiful surroundings.

“I was born in 1966, and my father worked for the forestry department and we had a good living and exposure to nature. There were lots of strong traditions of music, of art. But at the same time, public political discussion was off limits. Travel was very restricted. Some things were a burden.

“We even had good industrial and technical expertise but things were moving but not competitive.

“If you go deeper, a society needs freedoms, democracy, civil society and spontaneity. You must have a feeling that people can influence and participate in the state of affairs. That was missing. It looked like it would last forever and nobody would have contemplated what will happen.”

Yet, when the walls came down, the Czech people navigated it peacefully, even engaging in an amicable divorce with Slovakia.

“I think that generated another respect, because there were examples of how it could go wrong that were around us. Despite tensions,the changes were negotiated in a civil manner.”

The late dissident and first president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, was a pivotal figure during that time.

“Havel was representative of dissent and liberal values. To this day, he is still perceived as somebody remembered for the direction and image of the democratic Czech Republic at a crucial time. Internationally, he is one of the figures of the revolutions and has a huge following still, across the generations,” says Hykl.

Perhaps, more controversial is the ebullient second president Vaclav Klaus, who was also Havel’s Prime Minister during the early years.

“Klaus was the economic architect with a plan. He was conservative in orientation and had the political skill to devise transformation projects right from beginning. It was not an easy period of time. We were industrialised and had a high degree of educational competency but no free market. And we had to make changes fairly quick. That was the tremendous value of Klaus at that time.”

Fast forward 25 years, and Hykl is the man with a plan.

“I have been posted to KL since January 2014. It’s been very busy, and we want to implement quite a practical agenda. Link business and organisation between our two countries. We have brought in over the last one and half years, more than five biomedical companies, medical devices, info com devices, and seven vice-chancellors from Czech research development. We want to carry our relationship forward.”

“We are looking for long-term partners in economic and social development in the region. Malaysia has performed extremely well over the last 50 years, with good vision and a government that is systematically intervening to ensure development.

“We have embassies in seven out of 10 Asean countries and this is a region we want to grow in. Manufacturing, technology, innovation, creativity, student exchange, these are also exchange projects between Malaysia and the Czech Republic. We can offer access and cooperation with nothing other than mutual benefit in mind.”

Hykl considers it part of his duty to advocate the Malaysian agenda in the West.

“This is not just a one way street. My role is not just promoting Czech Republic in Malaysia but Malaysia in Czech Republic. There’s more to Malaysia than what international press might have covered with the airline tragedies. This is a country that has been successful over the years. You can see the change and development. I find it beautiful and interesting. The important thing is to believe in yourself.”


The Star, Published: Sunday, 20 December 2015
As smooth as velvet;
A quarter of a century on, the roots of Czech's peaceful evolution are still holding strong.
Photo by EPA: Remembering the day: Prague citizens lighting candles near the students’memorial on Narodni trida street in Prague as Czech Republic celebrates the 26th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.
By Martin Vengadesan
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/watching-the-world/2015/12/20/as-smooth-as-velvet/


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Dr Chandra Muzaffar

THE execution of 47 people by the Saudi authorities on Jan 2 reinforces my deeply held conviction that the death penalty should be abolished. No state should have the power to impose the death penalty on anyone. It is a right that can be abused and misused so easily.

As of now, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice. In Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, the number of people put to death by the state has seen a big increase, from 90 in 2014 to 157 in 2015. Another country in West Asia which had also executed a huge number of people in 2015 is Iran: 694 between Jan 1 Jan and July 15. The death penalty has not been able to deter Iranians from committing many of the crimes for which the law has been enacted.

In the case of Saudi Arabia, we are told that the 47 men executed were associated with “terrorist organisations” or groups espousing the takfiri ideology which condemns Muslims who do not subscribe to their bigoted, dogmatic thinking as “apostates” or with “criminal plots” that endangered national security.

In many instances, little evidence was offered to substantiate these allegations. The trials that were held fell far below accepted international standards. Both Amnesty International (*) and Human Rights Watch raised serious doubts about the manner in which the most famous of the 47 executed persons, the well-known Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, was sentenced to death in October 2014.

Nimr was a consistent advocate of peaceful reform. He urged the Saudi authorities to hold free and fair elections. He was of course critical of the Saudi ruling class but there is no record of his involvement in any act of terrorism.

It is in a sense ironical that the Saudi authorities should execute people for involvement in “terrorism” when there is overwhelming evidence to show that individuals and groups from the elite stratum of Saudi society have been sponsoring and providing financial support to terrorist outfits in Iraq and Syria.

It appears that terrorism has become a convenient excuse to target non-violent dissent directed against Saudi elites. In the guise of combating terrorism, both Sunni and Shia critics committed to peaceful, democratic change have been eliminated.

What would be the consequences of the mass executions of Jan 2? Dissent which has existed in Saudi Arabia for decades but which has become more pronounced in recent years will become less conspicuous for a while at least. But there will be eruptions from time to time especially in Shia areas such as Qatif.

At the regional level, Saudi Arabia has already severed diplomatic ties with Iran in the wake of the firebombing of its embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad. In this regard, destroying the Saudi embassy and consulate was a clear violation of diplomatic norms.

Knowing how volatile the situation was in the aftermath of Nimr’s execution, the Iranian government should have done much more to protect those Saudi entities on Iranian soil. It is commendable that President Hassan Rouhani has condemned the firebombing episodes.

Saudi-Iran relations which have been deteriorating for a number of years now, will worsen further. The power struggle between these two regional actors will become even more bitter – and bloodier. It will be felt not only in Syria, Iraq and Yemen which are all caught in the throes of actual armed conflicts but also in Lebanon with its perennial inter-community tensions and Bahrain which may erupt yet again.

Underlying this power struggle between two states are sentiments related to the Sunni–Shia schism at the forefront of which is Sunni Saudi Arabia poised against Shia Iran.

The Sunni-Shia population mix in all the above states – some are Sunni majority, others are Shia majority – can lead to sectarian conflagrations that are capable of tearing asunder their social fabric. They may well have repercussions in countries outside the region proper such as Afghanistan and Pakistan which have a significant Shia minority.

Even in societies in which the Shia element is miniscule – Indonesia and Malaysia being two examples – the manipulation of majority Sunni sentiment against the Shia can generate unnecessary tension and friction.

All in all, Sunni-Shia conflicts, actual or potential, will weaken the Muslim Ummah (community) to such an extent that the solidarity and cohesiveness that the community yearns for will become an even more distant mirage.

In such a situation, it will be vulnerable to all sorts of manipulations and machinations by external forces abetted by internal elements. The Ummah would be at its nadir, much to the delight of its enemies.

While all this may manifest itself in the medium and long-term, the immediate consequence of the execution of the 47 could be a more determined push by the Saudi rulers, in collusion with the Israeli elite, to thwart the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.

Since both the Saudis and the Israelis realise that the nuclear deal could change the power balance in the region, their aim would be to exploit the deterioration in ties with Iran to keep Iran in perpetual isolation. There may even be lobbies in Washington working with the Saudis and Israelis to achieve this, given some recent US moves against Tehran.

This is why the situation that is unfolding from the execution of the 47 may generate much more upheaval in the most conflict prone region of the world that is already drenched in the blood of millions of innocent human beings.


Letter to the Star, Published: Wednesday, 6 January 2016
Worsening of a volatile region
By Dr Chandra Muzaffar
President, International Movement for a Just World (JUST)
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2016/01/06/worsening-of-a-volatile-region/

(*)
“Saudi Arabia’s authorities have indicated that the executions were carried out to fight terror and safeguard security. However, the killing of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in particular suggests they are also using the death penalty in the name of counter-terror to settle scores and crush dissidents,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr had been a vocal critic of the Saudi Arabian government and was among seven activists whose death sentences were upheld earlier this year. They had all been arrested for participating in protests in the Kingdom’s predominantly Shi’a Eastern Province in 2011, and for calling for political reform.

“It is a bloody day when the Saudi Arabian authorities execute 47 people, some of whom were clearly sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials. Carrying out a death sentence when there are serious questions about the fairness of the trial is a monstrous and irreversible injustice. The Saudi Arabian authorities must heed the growing chorus of international criticism and put an end to their execution spree,” said Philip Luther...

Saudi Arabia has long been one of the most prolific executioners in the world. Between January and November 2015, Saudi Arabia executed at least 151 people, amounting to its highest recorded number of executions in a single year since 1995.

In many death penalty cases defendants are denied access to a lawyer and in some cases they are convicted on the basis of “confessions” obtained under torture or other ill-treatment.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty at all times and in all cases without exception – regardless of who is accused, the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution.


Amnesty International, 2 January 2016, 19:22 UTC
Shia cleric among 47 executed by Saudi Arabia in a single day
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/01/shia-cleric-among-47-executed-by-saudi-arabia-in-a-single-day/
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Open houses and open hearts

A reader has been sending Happy New Message with some comment about Mr Yahoo's diary under the title of "Best Asian country after retirement". This reader told Mr Yahho that it was a bit difficult to understand the article with many Malay words in "Why I have a Christmas tree in my house" but be able to understand what she wanted to say.

Today Mr Yahho wants to provide more better sentiments and thoughts in Malaysia as under:

IN the neighbourhood where I live, the population mix is like a microcosm of Malaysia. The pasar malam on Saturday evenings has not changed much since I moved in nearly 30 years ago. All races are represented, both among the sellers and the buyers.

There is a warm, friendly atmosphere as the people intermingle freely. Those who have been talking about race and business need to look at such communities to appreciate the richness in our nation’s diversity.

Some of the vendors still talk to me fondly about my mother, the aunty who liked to bargain like a true Penangite.

When I have visitors from abroad, a walk through the pasar malam gives them an immediate perspective of the diversity of our nation.

I love to go to this pasar malam as I am sure to bump into my neighbours as well as teachers who taught my two boys in the primary and secondary schools nearby.

I believe the true spirit of neighbourliness lies in how much we ourselves are willing to be a part of the neighbourhood.

When I enrolled my sons in the national school that was just a short walk from my house, some friends did ask me why I didn’t choose a “better” school.

I explained that it would not be right to try and get placement in another school by faking one’s address.

And I certainly did not want my boys to waste time having to commute, and also not to be able to mix with their schoolmates outside of school hours because they do not live in the same area.

Some teachers from my son’s secondary school visited me recently when they heard about my medical journey. We keep in touch even though it’s been some years since the boys left. I was active in the PTA then and there are other parents with whom I’m still in contact, and we continue to help out the school when we can.

Our open house on Christmas Day is another constant in our neighbourhood.

It has been a tradition for us to serve halal food at our open house, as many of our guests are Muslims.

We engage a caterer from the neighbourhood kedai makan, and our good neighbours add dishes to the spread, providing chicken pie, fruit cake and other delicacies from their halal kitchens.

As we celebrate in this manner every Christmas, I’m reminded that our homes, like our hearts, should be open all the time and not just on occasions.

And I am glad that I stay in a neighbourhood where I can visit my neighbours and they can visit me without any prior appointment.

Due to my current physical condition, I won’t be holding my open house this coming Friday, as it would be too much of a strain to host the event which usually starts about noon and often ends only after dinner time.

But I know my neighbours will understand and will be sending their wishes and prayers.

One of them told me that she prays for me five times a day.

Social media is full of comments on all kinds of issues plaguing the country, but I get the feeling that many commentators are not connected directly with the people affected by the problems.

Our policy makers, too, need to get a better feel of the ground but they cannot do so if they are too wired to themselves.

Those who are privileged to be chauffeur driven everywhere really have not much grounds to comment on traffic jams, or the debate on Uber and GrabCar.

Likewise, to legitimately comment on national unity, perhaps one needs to first host a good old traditional Malaysian open house – and experience some heart-to-heart exchanges with neighbours, guests and friends of all colours and creeds.


The Star, Published: Sunday, 20 December 2015
Open houses and open hearts
By Soo Ewe Jin
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/sunday-starters/2015/12/20/open-houses-and-open-when-we-live-out-the-true-malaysian-spirit-of-being-good/

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2016年01月05日

Best Asian country after retirement

Malaysia has been ranked as the top country in Asia and fifth in the world in which to retire, according to relocation and retirement specialists International Living.

Malaysia ranked above fellow Southeast Asian countries Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines in the Retirement Index 2016, which scores how strong a country stands based on 10 categories.

Malaysia held one of the best scores for the category Buying & Renting, proven through its great value rentals, and also ranked highest in the Healthcare category.

In Entertainment and Amenities, Malaysia scored a perfect 100, according to the index which lists the top 23 countries worldwide in which to retire.

Panama was ranked the best place in the world to retire in 2016, followed by Ecuador and Mexico.

The index was compiled from data and feedback from International Living's correspondents, editors and contributors from around the world.

Selection of the top 23 countries was based on the final average scores from 10 categories, which included cost of living, infrastructure and climate.

To access the full report, visit InternationalLiving.com.


January 4, 2016.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/travel/article/malaysia-named-top-asian-destination-for-retirement

A few years back, my children and I went shopping at Mid Valley Megamall when we came across a gorgeous Christmas tree displayed at the centre court.
“Christians are so lucky, ma,” my 10-year-old son said as he admired the Christmas tree.
Pretty shocked with his statement, I took a while to respond.
“Ya, ma. It’s so nice. They get to buy presents and receive presents from everyone. So much fun!” my daughter added.
“And we have to fast for one whole month!” said my boy with bulging eyes.
At that moment I knew I had two choices – I could tell them God would be displeased with their statements. Or I could respect their right to have their own opinions.
“Do you wish to exchange Hari Raya for Christmas?” I asked in a relaxed tone.
“Err…ma, I don’t think we can do that,” said my girl. “We are Muslim. We have to puasa and celebrate Hari Raya. Kalau tak nanti masuk neraka”.
Having faith in my kids, I asked, “Who chose the clothes and the shoes you are wearing today?”
“We did. We picked it ourselves”.
“And who chose to shop at Mid Valley?”
“We did.”
“So you get to choose most things. But who chose your religion for you?”
“No one. We were born Muslim. Right?” asked my daughter while my son looked confused.
“Remember who put you in my tummy?” I asked my boy.
“Allah did!” he was quick to answer with a big smile.
“Yes, and it is Allah who decided that you should be born a Muslim,” I explained.
“So it is Jesus who decides Christian babies are born as…well, Christians?” my girl raised her eyebrow.
“Well, technically, there is only one God. Different people call Him using different names but He is One,” I explained.
“Wait,” my daughter stopped me, “If Muslims, Christians and everyone else share the same God, why did God decide I be a Muslim and not a Christian?”
“Because I am a Muslim. When God made you my daughter, I taught you to be a Muslim too, just like me,” I answered, knowing exactly what my daughter would say in response.
“So it was not God who made me a Muslim. It was you, right? It was your decision,” she was quick.
“Well, I like to believe that God intended you to be a Muslim, that’s why he chose to place you inside my belly, knowing I will be your mother and raise you as a Muslim”.
“Does that mean we HAVE to be Muslims?” asked my boy.
“Don’t you like being a Muslim?” I knew I was talking to 10- and 12-year-olds but I was intrigued.
Both my kids looked at each other.
“You know how sometimes I buy you something and you don’t like it? Like the sports shoes I got for your birthday – you hated it. Remember?”
“Yeah…”
“If you don’t like something, it is fine to say you don’t like it. We can talk about it,” I persuaded them to open up. I wanted to know what was on their minds. “Do you like being a Muslim?”
“Of course. I cannot imagine not being one,” they said.
“Yeah, I like going to sembahyang Jumaat with my friends. And terawih too!”
“Puasa is fun too. We get to sahur while watching Disney Channel and go Bazar Ramadhan for berbuka puasa. And we also get to balik kampung for Hari Raya.”
“So in a way you are lucky to be Muslim – you get to do all that cool stuff,” I smiled.
“Yeah….but it’s still nice to have a Christmas tree in our house and get presents.”
“Do you think Allah will be mad at us if we got a Christmas tree and Christmas presents?”
I looked at both my beautiful children and there was only one way I could answer them, “Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim – do you remember what it means?”
“Ya, it means ‘dengan nama Tuhan yang Maha Pengasih lagi Penyayang’. We learned it at school.”
“So do you think Allah who is a ‘Pengasih’ and ‘Penyayang’ is gonna be mad at you for wanting a Christmas tree and presents?” I asked.
There were huge smiles on their faces.
Today, seven years later, the tradition continues. Our Christmas tree is readily displayed in our living room, fully decorated with shiny ornaments and blinking lights. There are presents under the tree for our friends and close family members. Every Christmas Eve, we invite friends who do not have any plans to join us for dinner and a few rounds of Charades and Taboo afterwards. Christmas has become a celebration for us to appreciate those in our lives throughout the year and strengthen our bond with them while we await the New Year.
My kids and I may have a Christmas tree in our living room and a Christmas wreath hanging outside our door; we may enjoy singing Christmas songs, watch Christmas movies and exchange Christmas gifts, but we are Muslims and our faith is only towards Allah S.W.T.
Merry Christmas, everyone!


December 21, 2015
Why I have a Christmas tree in my house
My kids and I know that having a Christmas tree in our house and exchanging gifts among friends cannot shake our faith in the one true Allah who we believe in.
By F A Abdul
http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2015/12/21/why-i-have-a-christmas-tree-in-my-house/


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New Year's resolutions

IMAGINE this scenario. You receive an alert or notification on your favourite social media site that a bomb has exploded in Petaling Jaya and people are being told to stay indoors. Do you:

A) Immediately share this?

B) Double-check the veracity of the information?

C) Dismiss the posting out of hand?

Disappointingly, a sizeable number would choose option A.

This scenario actually happened on Dec 21, but it wasn’t a bomb that went off at the Taman Jaya LRT station.

It was the case of a jealous husband who allegedly set his wife’s lover’s car on fire.

Five other cars were subsequently engulfed.

The frenzy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram was unbelievable with many netizens sharing the “bomb” rumour without thinking.

I received four phone calls from friends who were alarmed and wanted to know the true picture.

I told them The Star Online and other credible news websites had already posted about the fire at the LRT station and IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had also tweeted and clarified the situation.

Even then, perhaps influenced by photos and videos on social media showing a huge fireball next the train station, people continued to speculate on the bomb theory.

The damage that can be done via postings on social media should never be underestimated.

I’m not just referring to trolls or hired cyber thugs who politicise and racialise just about anything, I’m also referring to your average Joe – in other words, people like you and me who innocently share sensitive and unverified information.

In fact, this category of netizens is probably the most dangerous, as people tend to believe and be swayed by their own friends or family.

I think the 10-second rule should be practised here.

Pause and think before you press the share button or until you have verified the information you received.

The New Year is upon us, and there are dark clouds on the horizon.

Economic uncertainties – price hikes, inflation, a weakened ringgit, rising cost of living – all of these issues tend to paint a bleak picture for the coming year.

The Goods and Services Tax and the decline in the value of the ringgit against the US dollar have already impacted many Malaysians.

Add hikes in toll and public transport fares and you’ll understand why 2016 is going to be a trying year for Malaysians.

Political fatigue has also set in.

The “hot” issues like the 1MDB controversy and the RM2.6bil donation will not fade away.

In fact, with Umno and PAS on the verge of a historic partnership, I fully expect politics to be right up there in 2016 – fatigue or not.

Let’s also not forget the growing Islamic State (IS) threat.

The police have scored a number of successes against terror cells in the country, but we still have to be vigilant because the IS threat is not going to go away anytime soon.

It’s against this uncertain backdrop that I feel Malaysians need to come together.

We seem to waste so much energy on trivial matters and honestly, I’m tired of how we tend to racialise everything.

The Low Yat and Kota Raya incidents are cases in point.

When even petty crime is racialised, then we know that we’re in trouble.

A crime is still a crime, regardless of who committed it.

I guess we’re all guilty of asking or even thinking this whenever we’re told about a robbery or a snatch theft, etc.

“Eh, who were the perpetrators? Indian / Chinese / Malay? (insert whatever race you feel are prone to committing said crime).

Yup, I’ll hold my hand up and say that I’ve been guilty of pre-judging too.

Certain prejudices are a hard habit to break.

But break it we must because 2016 is going to be even tougher than 2015 and we need to start looking at the big picture.

I’ve never been one for New Year resolutions.

If they matter so much, why make a resolution at the beginning of the year?

Why not commit to a resolution in May or October, any month for that matter?

However, I’m going to try to make an exception for 2016.

My resolutions, and I hope yours too, will be a) not to jump to conclusions and b) not to racialise issues.

The first of course is far from simple.

We are bombarded with so much news these days and from so many different platforms that we tend to react instantly.

A good tip here would be to double-check with a reputable source.

And, once again, think before you post anything on social media.

My second resolution is more straightforward.

Just stop being prejudiced.

What happened to our much vaunted multi-racial society that our politicians keep trumpeting about?

Our society continues to be polarised, but we have to believe that this is our country and we can’t just depend on any one race to be a successful nation.

The writer wishes all readers a New Year blessed with peace, love and joy.


The Star, Published: Friday, 1 January 2016
For this New Year, let’s all think before we react
By Brian Martin
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/on-your-side/2016/01/01/for-this-new-year-lets-all-think-before-we-react-certain-prejudices-are-a-hard-habit-to-break-but-br/

And so, another year has gone and 2016 has just dawned. With a new year come new dreams, hopes and resolutions, and losing weight and living healthier are right on top of that wish list for so many people.

Some want to eat better. Others want to spare more time for exercise. There are those who want to achieve optimum work-life balance. Whatever that personal aim is, the start of a new year is hardly a motivating factor when it comes to changing your habits.

Beyond going from a “5” to a “6” in the Gregorian calendar, a new year gives neither bonus willpower nor extra motivation to achieve any goal. Any novel aim whispered to oneself at the end of December will fizzle out come February if there is no resoluteness to see it through.

I know this because I didn’t start my quest to lose weight in January. Mine was September 2009, after an emotional period I thought I would never survive.

I needed something to take my mind off the crazy merry-go-round that was going on in my head. Losing some of the 90kg of weight (mostly fat) I was carrying since early adulthood seemed a logical thing to do. It would take my mind off my issues and make me healthier.

And so, this Obese-1 woman had to learn to exercise and control her food portions, both of which she had never done in her life.

I have conditioned myself so that if I get hungry at 1am, there’s always a 24-hour fast-food joint, and one portion of nasi lemak would only leave me wanting more. I have always asked for nasi satu setengah whenever I buy breakfast.

Hard is an understatement when you need to make drastic changes. But as the logic goes, if you want to achieve something you don’t have, you need to do something you have not done.

With that change, I took up running, 100m at a time. Building stamina was hard when you had none to start with.

But I continued, despite the sluggishness of improvement, and, by 2012, I completed the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, a full 42km. I read up on processed foods and learned how to cook. When I ate out, I changed my portion sizes. At night, I slept earlier so I didn’t have midnight hunger pangs. With consistent effort on many fronts, I managed to shed 18kg in three months.

I swapped my allowance to eat out with engaging a personal trainer who could guide me through the complicated maze of exercises which I was never familiar with. That proved to be a priceless investment. Long after his sessions were over, I knew what I needed to do to keep my weight and fitness in check.

As my weight went down, I saw my jawline and clavicle for the first time in 20 years. Those remain, until today, my yardstick if I have eaten a bit too much. It was an inexplicable feeling for someone who had been either overweight or obese since she was 17.

When my waistline reached 31 inches from 36, I went into a designer jeans bar to try out 7 for All Mankind and True Religion denim because finally, I could fit into them.

About a year after I started to lose weight, my physician took me off statin, which I have been taking for the last three years because of my elevated cholesterol level. It was a personal victory to me, proof that with sustainable change, you can reverse your health condition.

First Stride is my column about making small changes to achieve a healthier life.

Because it is these small changes that will eventually snowball into big results. Excess weight is an accumulation of habits, and the same goes if you want to lose it. If one cannot sustain small changes, that rubber band will just snap and go back to square one.

I am about 65kg now, hoping to bring it down to 60kg, because with age, metabolism slows down and that makes gaining weight easier.

My biggest motivation to maintain it is to delay long-term medication for as long as I can. Plus, I don’t want to go back to the weight that I was. It’s as simple as that. I was thankful that I started on that journey. Six years on,

I am still amazed at where life takes me, when I know can never go back.


New Straits Times, Updated: 2 JANUARY 2016 at 11:02 AM
A new journey
By Syida Lizia Amirul Ihsan
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/01/120131/new-journey


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Heritage tree

Mr Yahoo is enjoying in Penang to see the flamboyant fiery red blossom of Delonix regia, Flame of the Forest. However he worried a bit...:

THE magnificent raintree standing at the entrance of Penang Botanic Gardens is down to ‘bare bones’.

A check by The Star showed that the 131-year-old tree, which is scientifically known as the Samanea saman, was in a deplorable condition without any leaves.

An expert, who declined to be named, said it was quite apparent that the tree, 9m tall with a trunk diameter of 149cm, was ailing and under extreme stress.

“The tree is most likely suffering from internal infection and rotting problems.

“Proper prevention measures have to be taken immediately in order to save this heritage tree,” he said when contacted on Monday.

Another arborist, who also declined to be named, said the raintree could be suffering due to few reasons.

“The roads near to the root crown could be the major cause.

“Besides that, rotting of the root might have taken place earlier during the site’s construction and the dieback shows that the tree is losing water and nutrients intake,” he said.

However, Penang Botanic Gardens Department director Mohd Azwa Shah Ahmad said the iconic raintree was just going through a deciduous process.

“It’s common for this type of trees to become deciduous during Autumn.

“Raintrees are long-lived species with an average of 80 to 100 years of lifespan. It will take a longer time to recover in case of wound,” he said in an e-mail.

Mohd Azwa added that new shoots were often eaten by dusky leaf monkey (known as lutong).

“The monkeys seem to like the young shoots, and this is another reason for the tree to unable to grow more leaves.”

Mohd Azwa said the condition of the tree was considered as average based on observation by arborists from the Forest Research Institute Malaysia.

“The tree has been inspected and the result showed that the tree trunk is still compact and not hollow.

“We also do visual tree assessment occassionally to look after its condition,” he added.

Mohd Azwa reiterated that the department was working on various ways to preserve the heritage tree.

According to the Penang Botanic Gardens official website, the tree is also known as the “Pokok Pukul Lima” for its compound that exhibits “sleep motion” where the leaves close just before sunset and open just after sunrise.

This feature retains more moisture for the tree by enabling more dew to settle when the leaves are folded.


The Star, Published: Friday, 1 January 2016
Heritage tree hurting
Photo-1: The raintree at the entrance of Penang Botanic Gardens in George Town, is believed to be under ‘extreme’ stress.
Photo-2: A recopy of a photo taken circa 1910 showing the iconic raintree at the entrance of Penang Botanic Gardens.
By Logeiswary Thevadass
http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/community/2016/01/01/heritage-tree-hurting-expert-internal-infection-and-rot-are-likely-causes/

KUALA LUMPUR − Bloomberg: Palm oil posted its biggest annual gain in five years as the strongest El Nino in almost two decades parches crops in South-East Asia and trims record stockpiles of the commodity used in food and biofuel.

Prices rose 9.7% this year, the first annual rise since 2013 and the most since 2010. Futures for March delivery on Bursa Malaysia Derivatives rallied to an 18-month high yesterday before closing 0.4% lower at RM2,485 in Kuala Lumpur. Prices surged 6% this month and 4.6% this quarter.

Benchmark prices slumped to a six-year low in August as a slowdown in China’s economy hurt demand and exacerbated a global glut of vegetable oils. Prices have since rallied 33% as the El Nino gathered strength and a haze from Indonesia’s forest fires stoked concerns of a decline in output. The rally helped palm oil buck the rout in commodities from wheat to corn and crude oil.

“The rainmaker for the first quarter of 2016 will be the production more than any other variable,” said Paramalingam Supramaniam, director at Selangor-based brokerage Pelindung Bestari. “El Nino is like the black swan. We don’t know for certain. Any drop in output exceeding 20% will be supportive.”

The El Nino may curb oil palm yields in Indonesia and Malaysia, which account for 86% of supply, as the event can bake parts of Asia while bringing too much rain to Latin America. At the same time Indonesia, the world’s biggest grower, is raising the mandated amount of palm blended with diesel to 20% from 15%. El Nino and the biofuel mandate would be a “powerful cocktail” that may drive up prices in 2016, Dorab Mistry, director of Godrej International Ltd, said in November.

“The rebound in prices surpassed expectations in particular from November and December” even as demand from China declined, said Marcello Cultrera, a dealer at Oriental Pacific Futures in Kuala Lumpur.

Soybean oil prices on the Chicago Board of Trade are poised for a fifth year of decline, the longest streak since at least 1960. Futures were 0.4% lower at 30.96 cents a pound by 6:23pm in Singapore, heading for a 3.7% decline in 2015.

Record stockpiles and slumping exports were still concerns for investors, Paramalingam said. Inventories in Malaysia rose to a record 2.9 million tonnes at the end of November as exports fell 12.4%, according to the nation’s palm oil board. Shipments fell 5.4% in December to 1.27 million tonnes from a month earlier, cargo surveyor Intertek Testing Services said yesterday.


The Star, Published: Friday, 1 January 2016
El Nino lifts palm oil gain to 5-year high
Photo− EPA: The black swan: The El Nino may curb oil palm yields in Indonesia and Malaysia, which account for 86 of supply, as the event can bake parts of Asia while bringing too much rain to Latin America.
http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2016/01/01/el-nino-lifts-palm-oil-gain-to-5-year-high/?style=biz



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New Year Message from Malaysia

As under, Mr Yahho would like to introduce all of you 2 articles written by Marina Mahathir and Martin Khor:

Instead of waiting for others to make improvements, maybe we should start by changing ourselves first.

It is finally the end of a very long year. As I meet with friends and others at various gatherings over the holidays, the mood is sober and pessimistic.

A year ago, we all wished for a better year in 2015 after the disastrous year that was 2014. But sadly, 2015 has not proven to be uplifting.

The hole we find ourselves in has been dug even deeper and we cannot see how we are to get out of it. Despite the seemingly bright outlook our leaders would have us believe, ordinary people everywhere, especially the young, know that things are tough.

Life in the city is expensive, more so if your salary barely keeps your head above water. Your hopes of living close to your job are slim, so you are forced to live further out, which means having to pay more for transport. Each month ends with very little spare change.

That is, if you have a job. For our graduates coming out of university, real life is a shock. Nothing they learnt in our public universities has prepared them for workplaces that value soft skills that they have not been taught.

The good jobs are the ones that require working fluency in English. Yet they are being told that they are a superior community that does not need it. Such a disconnect with the realities of life leads to frustration.

To divert attention from these frustrations, they are told that it’s someone else’s fault and the only way to ease the pain is to turn to God.

Other less devout people may annoyingly have better jobs and lives but they are at least not going to heaven, while you are assured.

It is this type of thinking that leads to even more resentment, which perhaps makes people unable to think clearly and see what is truly the problem. That those who keep telling you that you are unjustly suffering are actually the ones who are causing it. And that they can provide you with few answers beyond that redemption will come in the afterlife. Meanwhile, you have to feed your family.

This is the real dilemma we are in today –those we rely on to lead us into the future are in fact dragging us backwards and justifying it as salvation.

The more insecure our futures, the more they try to secure theirs by telling us that we are constantly in danger from outside forces and only they can protect us.

Foolishly, we believe them and hand over even more of our lives.

Perhaps I am being overly pessimistic. Perhaps things can be better. I hope so and I pray the following wishes for 2016 will come true:

1. That ordinary people will finally wake up from their stupor and realise that if we do nothing to save our country now, we’ll be looking at decades of misery.

2. That while some people’s ideas of how things will be better may sound fine in theory, real life may not pan out quite that way. History has shown that when you buy too much into politicians’ promises and give up any checks and balances, it will be really difficult to undo these later.

3. That greed and hypocrisy, the hallmarks of 2015, will finally be recognised and called out on, regardless of who it is. When people blithely insist that there is nothing wrong with taking money meant for orphans to pay for their trips abroad, or use people’s savings to pay dubious loans, then you know that honesty has become extinct.

4. That we return to the values that used to be considered good. Values such as honesty, trustworthiness, integrity and even courtesy and respect are now no longer considered values to be upheld. Instead, we see blatant dishonesty being exalted while those who dare to speak the truth are punished.

5. That we realise this constant need to prohibit and punish those who give alternative opinions and perspectives will eventually bite us back. Not just because the world is watching but because there are so many examples of countries that do this and are totally miserable places to live in.

Unless, of course, our leaders truly don’t care whether we are happy or not.

6. That we stop believing the constant lies and fantastical stories that we are being told. Our leaders live in parallel universes from us, where agencies that have done their utmost to divide people are praised for bringing “unity and peace”, where the greatest danger to us are liberals rather than the greedy and dishonest politicians.

7. That we start being a more considerate and thoughtful society, rather than one that is quick to condemn anyone who is different.

I hope we become a kinder society where we empathise more with those who have less and are proud of those who do well, rather than finding fault with them. I would love to see our society become more big-hearted rather than be so judgmental.

I don’t know if any of these are too much to ask. Perhaps change can only happen when we change ourselves, when we stop waiting for others to make the change for us.

Today our beloved Malaysia needs us, the people, more than ever. Let us not let her down.

Try and have a happy new year, folks!

The Star, Published: Thursday, 31 December 2015
Wishing for a better year
By Marina Mahathir
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/musings/2015/12/31/wishing-for-a-better-year/

The new year is likely to witness events and trends in the environmental and economic areas that had been set up in 2015.

It is the time again to bid farewell to the old year and to welcome the new one.

Last year was very eventful on the environmental and economic fronts, and 2016 promises to be the same, if not more so.

For those passionate about the fate of the planet, 2015 closed with a bang, following the adoption of a global deal on climate change in December, but not before a nail-biting last day when the fate of the Paris conference hung uncertainly.

Finally, a deal was put together, generally satisfying both developing and developed countries.

The developing countries, led by the G77 and China, and also the like-minded developing countries (LMDCs), managed to stand firm on their demands and secured acceptance of most of their points, though diluted through compromise.

Malaysia played a crucial role on behalf of the developing countries, being both spokesperson for the LMDCs as well as a coordinator for the G77 and China.

The US and its allies also got their way.

The result is a weak agreement that depends on each country to determine what it can do on mitigation (reducing or slowing down emissions) and with no official compliance mechanism to discipline those countries that do not perform even according to their own expectations.

From a purely environmental perspective, the Paris deal was thus nothing to shout about.

Some may even consider it a failure.

The pledges by countries (known as intended nationally determined contributions) are so inadequate that they lead to a pathway to global warming by more than 3°C rather than the 2°C or 1.5°C limit that the Paris Agreement says is needed to avoid a global climate crisis.

However, given the state of environmental geopolitics, many countries, including the US, cannot agree to a “top-down” approach where each country is given an emission reduction goal. And a deal involving 200 countries needs a consensus.

Thus the Paris agreement is the type of deal that was possible, and international cooperation can continue.

There are also mechanisms in the Paris Agreement, like a “global stocktake” through which countries assess the adequacy of their pledged actions and try to encourage or even pressurise one another to do better.

This stocktake will also assess whether financial and technological resources promised by the developed countries are adequately flowing to the developing countries.

It is understood that without the developed countries providing sufficient funds and technology, the developing countries will not be able to do their share of climate action.

The challenge in 2016 is how to keep the pressure up so that countries move into climate actions. The danger is that after the great relief that a deal had been struck in Paris, the situation will return to business as usual.

The fact is that the climate crisis is real and demands immediate actions.

Another big environmental issue in 2015 was the ‘haze’ – actually thick smog – originating from Indonesia that covered much of Malaysia, Singapore as well as Sumatra and Kalimantan. It took many weeks before the haze cleared by October.

The haze led to frustration and questions as to why after so many years, Indonesia could still not ensure control of its plantations so they stopped burning the forests.

In December, the Indonesian government announced it had plans to prosecute 16 firms.

This is good news indeed.

But because there had been slow or no action for so many years, we wonder whether it will be different this time.

This year must become the year in which Indonesia and its Asean partners, especially Malaysia and Singapore, can show that they can do something effective about the haze.

Ot--h-er-wise, scepticism and frustration will only grow.

On the economic front, 2016 may be dominated by some of the same issues that preoccupied 2015. The price of oil will most likely continue to be weak, especially since the Opec countries have been unable or unwilling to set a production limit for its members.

The low oil prices will, of course, benefit oil-importing countries.

However, oil-producing countries like Malaysia will continue to suffer from a fall in government revenue and export earnings.

Emerging economies and developing countries generally had a tough time in 2015, and the difficulties are likely to increase further this year as they have become financially inter-dependent in many ways with global finance.

This increases vulnerabilities such as the possibility of global investors moving their financial assets out of the developing countries.

This is especially so when the US has already begun to raise interest rates, which it most likely will continue to do in 2016.

In 2015, foreign funds pulled out some of their bond and stock holdings in Malaysia, and this trend may continue in 2016.

If this does happen, then we can expect the ringgit to remain weak against the US dollar.

All eyes will be on China in 2016 to see whether its economy will remain on a slow growth path and if so, whether this will continue to affect its trading partners.

China is also being intensely watched for another reason.

At the end of December 2015, there was the official launch of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is expected to lend US$10bil (RM43bil) to US$13bil (RM56bil) a year.

The even more ambitious Chinese initiative known as “One belt, One road” is a gigantic investment plan that China has launched concretely in 2015 and is expected to be implemented more vigorously this coming year.

Many countries are seeking to benefit from these huge initiatives and are figuring out how to get involved.

Finally, 2015 saw the conclusion of the Trans-‑Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

The TPPA is a controversial animal, hailed by some as a 21st century deal that will benefit all its member states, but condemned by others as an instrument used by major powers to subjugate the weaker partners.

If 2015 saw the conclusion of the TPPA talks, 2016 is likely to witness an intensification of the debate and a battle of views in many countries, including Malaysia, on whether to sign and ratify this TPPA.

All in all, 2016 will see the continuation of events and trends that were set in 2015.

Only time will tell to what extent different countries will benefit or suffer adverse effects.


The Satr, Published: Monday, 4 January 2016
What to expect in 2016?
By Martin Khor
http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/global-trends/2016/01/04/what-to-expect-in-2016-the-new-year-is-likely-to-witness-events-and-trends-in-the-environmental-and/
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2016年01月04日

From Kathmandu

KATHMANDU--Reuters: Eight months after a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, its government has finally opened the way for a reconstruction agency to spend US$4.1 billion pledged by foreign donors to help the massive number of people rendered homeless.

Two separate earthquakes in April and May killed 9,000 people, injured more than 22,000 and damaged or destroyed nearly 900,000 houses, forcing many to live in shelters built with tarps and iron sheets, even in freezing temperatures.

It took until September for Nepal to create the National Reconstruction Agency (NRA).

On Saturday, a minister said that the cabinet on Friday named a chief for the agency, giving it the green light to begin its work.

The delays were due to wrangling between political parties, which frustrated many international donors.

Sherdhan Rai, minister for information and communication technology, said the NRA “will finalise the models for homes to be reconstructed and give financial assistance to people to rebuild their homes,”

He also said the agency “will be responsible to rebuild schools, hospitals, monuments, roads and office buildings in five years.”

UNICEF says more than 200,000 families affected by the tremors are still living in temporary shelters, at an altitude above 1,500 metres (4,920 feet) where harsh winter conditions will continue through February.

The earthquake prompted squabbling Nepalese politicians to united and in September adopt a new constitution, which they had failed at doing for seven years.

But the charter triggered protests by ethnic Madhesi groups who blocked key trade crossings with India, causing severe fuel shortages.

Aid agencies say the shortages disrupted efforts to send essential relief items such as blankets and clothing to earthquake survivors in mountainous areas.

“Clothes get wet with dew dropping from iron sheets at night and we cannot sleep,” Kanchhi Pahari, an earthquake victim told the Kantipur daily.

The government has handed only US$150 for each of the affected families in emergency aid but is yet to provide the second, promised tranche of US$2,000 for rebuilding homes.


New Straits Times, Updated: 26 DECEMBER 2015 @ 8:00 PM
Nepal quake-reconstruction body finally cleared to start working
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/119091/nepal-quake-reconstruction-body-finally-cleared-start-working

KHUMJUNG, NEPAL -- Phurba Tashi Sherpa, the most accomplished high-altitude climber in history, holds a bucket and crowbar as he claws through the rubble of his home seven months after Nepal's earthquake shattered the country.

Despite years of guiding wealthy foreign clients up Mount Everest, something he has done 21 times - a joint record - the 44-year-old has been left penniless.

Phurba Tashi's predicament is shared by many Sherpas, whose homes, lodges and restaurants were destroyed in the April disaster and who complain of a slow response from the government despite billions of dollars of Western aid.

Some retired guides must return to the peaks to earn money. Others are pulling their children out of schools in Kathmandu and hotel owners are firing staff.

To make matters worse, bookings so far point to a sharp drop in foreign mountaineers heading for Nepal in 2016, deterred by ruined infrastructure and an economic blockade along its border with India that threatens supplies of fuel and equipment.

"Everything I worked for was destroyed in a minute," said Phurba Tashi, standing in his village of Khumjung, a cluster of 80 stone houses perched on a plateau surrounded by breathtaking 23,000-foot (7,000-metre) mountains.The earthquake that killed almost 9,000 people destroyed his eight-bedroom trekking lodge, badly damaged his house and caused a deadly avalanche nine miles away on the world's tallest peak.The remote villages under Everest, which prospered in recent decades thanks to the booming climbing business, suffered some of the heaviest destruction in Nepal's deadliest disaster.

"TERRIBLE YEARS"
The Everest industry is in a state of upheaval following avalanches in 2014 and 2015 that killed 35 people, in the two most deadly incidents since climbers began ascending.In 2013, there was an unprecedented mass brawl between Sherpas and climbers that exposed deep-rooted frustrations over a lack of recognition of the risks local guides take to get foreigners up and down the fabled summit.

They want a bigger slice of Nepal's $360 million-a-year adventure travel industry, of which Everest is the cornerstone.Bookings to scale the world's tallest mountain in 2016 have been a third to half lower than previous years, according to interviews with 18 of the largest climbing firms.This would be the biggest drop since commercial climbing began on Everest in the early 1990s, and could leave hundreds of struggling Sherpas without work."It has been two terrible years for Everest: we have had no summits and lots of fatalities," said Garrett Madison, who runs Seattle-based Madison Mountaineering. The team doctor died this year on the mountain and three Sherpas working for him were killed in 2014. "It will take time to restore confidence."In the past, deadly accidents have done little to dent Everest's popularity, with risk being part of the allure. But next year could be different, as threats to the industry take on a political dimension.

An economic blockade of Nepal's border with India could disrupt expeditions and deter would-be climbers, who typically pay a non-refundable fee of $35,000 to $100,000 for a chance to scale the peak. Nepal has been facing an acute fuel crisis for three months since protesters in the lowland south, angered that a new constitution fails to reflect their interests, prevented supply trucks from entering from India.This is crippling the landlocked Himalayan nation as it tries to recover from the earthquake that displaced millions in the central and eastern regions.

CATASTROPHE
Mountaineering firms say the blockade threatens the climbing season because there may be a shortage of fuel to airlift equipment, operate emergency rescue flights or provide enough cooking gas cylinders to survive for two months on the mountain.

"It is a crisis at the moment. It is going to be a catastrophe if this embargo continues," said Phil Crampton, the owner of the New York-based Altitude Junkies.Near the warren of royal palaces and temples in central Kathmandu's bustling old town, Gobinda Bahadur Karki, the director of Nepal's tourism department, is more upbeat.He predicts the blockade will be over before the spring and says he is "expecting a good number of climbers" next year, because mountaineers used to assessing risks will not be discouraged by a rare natural disaster.Back in Khumjung, the resentment is not just about the blockade tripling the cost of building materials that need to be carried from an airport three days' walk away.

In a rural community where nine of 10 homes were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake, anger is rising over the government's failure to spend $4.1 billion of reconstruction money donated by foreign governments six months ago."We hear the politicians in Kathmandu are eating the money," Phurba Tashi said.Yuba Raj Khatiwada, vice chairman of Nepal's planning commission, is in charge of spending the money and understands the frustration over the delays, but says the blockade has absorbed attention and prevented aid work. "It has put us back in the relief rather than reconstruction stage," he said.

TERRIBLE COST
For almost a century, western climbers have hired Nepal's Sherpas to do the most dangerous work on Everest. It is a lucrative way of life in one of the world's poorest countries, but comes at a cost.More than 200 Sherpas have lost their lives working in the mountains and as many have been disabled by rockfalls, frostbite, and altitude-related illnesses.Known as the "Everest Yak" because of his immense stamina, the quiet and diminutive Phurba Tashi is head Sherpa for Himalayan Experience, one of the largest Everest climbing companies.He is the record holder at 34 summits for mountains over 8,000 meters (26,000 feet).

Yet he says for most of his career he has been paid less than western guides. Foreign guides can make $10,000-$35,000 a season, whereas Sherpas typically paid about $6,000, according to two western professionals.

Since the two recent disasters on Everest, Phurba Tashi has been under immense pressure from his family to quit. "I would rather we were poor than he took the risks," said Karma Doma, his wife, as she served guests Sherpa tea and biscuits.

In 2016, Phurba Tashi will take a break from climbing to appease his family, and will try to earn an income growing potatoes on a small farm.

But eventually, he says, he will have to return to the peaks to support his children.

He has spent his $20,000 life savings and borrowed $10,000 to rebuild his home and lodge, both surrounded by rubble.

The next time he climbs Everest he will be break the record. "A lot of people tell me I should go one more time to break the record, but it doesn't mean anything to me," he said. "Since the earthquake, when I look back at my career, my biggest disappointment is that I am still worrying about my future."


Reuters, Updated: Dec 20, 2015 2:45am EST
Nepal climbers face ruin after quake, blockade hits Everest industry
By Andrew Macaskill
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-quake-nepal-sherpas-insight-idUSKBN0U20S520151220

Kathmandu (AFP) - As a child soldier with Nepal's Maoists, Mira Rai learned to fire guns, disarm opponents and race down trails, little imagining her guerrilla drills would help make her one of the world's top ultra runners.

"It is like a dream, beyond anything I ever imagined. I was just a girl from a village," Rai told AFP.

The daughter of a poor Nepali farmer, Rai was only 14 when she ran away from home to fight alongside Maoist rebels seeking to overthrow the government.

"In our society, girls are supposed to behave in a certain way. I didn't want to be confined by that," said Rai, now aged 26.

She chafed at the rules she was expected to obey as a teenage girl living in a patriarchal country and the Maoist call for revolution resonated with her.

"The Maoists gave opportunities to women, they treated us equally. I saw that women could fight like men, be brave. I built up my confidence there," Rai said.

She practised firearm drills and competed with other cadres in running contests designed to build endurance.

"I did very well, I even used to outrun the boys," she recalled.

Today, Rai ranks among the world's leading ultra runners after a record-breaking win in the 80-kilometre (50-mile) Mont Blanc race in Chamonix, France, last June, when she beat her nearest rival by 22 minutes.

But when the decade-long insurgency ended in 2006, Rai, like many Maoist foot soldiers, was left with little in the way of cash or career prospects.

Desperate for work, she prepared to leave Nepal for a job in a Malaysian electronics factory before being scouted by a Kathmandu-based karate instructor, Dhurba Bikram Malla, who urged her to stay.

Rai gave up her plans and started training -- initially doing practice runs on the capital's congested roads because she could not afford the 15-cent bus fare to the nearest stadium.

"She was very single-minded. If you told her to do something, she would just do it," Malla told AFP.

"She is very consistent in her speed (and) never seems to get tired."

- Running in $4 shoes -
Rai made her racing debut in March 2014, running a steep 50-kilometre course along the hills overlooking the Kathmandu valley.

Dressed in a cheap t-shirt and shoes that cost $4, she ran for hours before she felt dizzy and stopped.

"I borrowed money to buy juice and noodles and started running again," she said.

Soon, Rai crossed the finish line, winning her first race and prizes that included a new pair of running shoes.

Since then, she has notched up an impressive set of victories, bagging gold in 13 of the 20 national and international races she has taken part in, including Italy's 83-kilometre Trail Degli Eroi.

Her victory at Chamonix vaulted her to second place among female ultra runners in the Skyrunners World Series which involves races in five continents.

Although Nepal is considered an ideal spot for trail running, racing remains a niche activity with the Himalayan nation hosting just a handful of events each year, including the world's highest marathon held in the foothills of Mount Everest.

Other Nepali athletes are making their mark in ultra running, with soldier Samir Tamang crowned Asian men's skyrunning champion after winning this year's 50-kilometre MSIG Sai Kung 50 in Hong Kong.

Both Rai and Tamang are supported by Trail Running Nepal, an organisation that promotes ultra running, but finding sponsors is a challenge for local athletes.

"Sponsorship is near impossible," Richard Bull, founder of Trail Running Nepal, told AFP.

"For trail running to grow in Nepal, we need people to organise (more) races. If it grows, then finding sponsors will be easier."

Rai, now sponsored by the multinational sports equipment company Salomon, is a rare success story, with a recent race yielding $1,500 in prize money, double Nepal's annual per capita income.

Yet she shrugs off her accomplishments, insisting she has been lucky.

"I have been fortunate to get opportunities... I want to inspire other women, tell them that nothing is impossible if we work hard," she said.

"There must be so many other Mira Rais in Nepal."


AFP, January 1, 2016, 5:43 pm
Nepal's ex-child soldier blazes ultra running trail
https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/30471751/nepals-ex-child-soldier-blazes-ultra-running-trail/


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To preserve cultures

DZULKIFLI Abdul Razak’s column, “Save our vanishing kampung” (NST, Dec 24) is a reminder of cultural history. He said: “The kampung serves as a reliable safety net, no matter how advanced the economy, provided it is kept intact.”

This is precisely what a Singaporean driver confessed to me when I was there. He said: “Here got money, you can live; if no money, that is the end. At least in Malaysia, still got the kampung culture and there is love. If we are serious, the destruction of kampung is also the destruction of love.”

Dzulkifli’s plea is pertinent so much so that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has to register the kampung under the list of World Heritage Sites.

Why should the kampung disappear? Of this, I am keen to learn. The disappearance of the kampung will “rob Malaysia of its richness, diversity and cultural balance and living heritage”.

In the ardent attempt to create a “globalised” culture through urbanisation, liberalisation, socialisation, modernisation and development, the more pressing civilisational issues are hidden.

Moreover, there is the promotion of racist concepts, where its application has led to class struggles and violent reactions because it propounds that some are inferior to others.

The desire for conquest of foreign lands and bring their people under control is true as much as it is real. The conquest is to subdue their culture − that is the epitome of power, and the use of that knowledge to accede more power by embracing and parading the borrowed culture and practices as one’s own.

Culture, as we know it, plays a vital role in every society as it helps retain the historical memory over ages. It can be a part of the national culture. Culture has been and should be seen as an inherent contributor to the economic aspirations of a nation. Behind the economic activity there survives a culture that sustains the economic continuity.

For example, kampung have contributed to the concept of diversity, richness of human interactions and balance in relationships.

The Malay saying, biar mati anak, jangan mati adat, tells us how relevant culture is to a society. The expression is based on the need for culture to teach future generations on the good way to live. The culture will be “submerged” when the “kampung” is destroyed.

It is time we realised that culture has economic value and that in most cases, the destruction of culture actually leads to another economic dimension. The most prevailing example is Mao Tze Tung’s Cultural Revolution before industrialisation.

Perhaps it is time to start classifying the destruction of origins of human economic activity and its cultural underpinnings and cultural heritage like the kampung as a criminal act, or as cultural terrorism. Such cultural deprivation, which causes misery to the mind, has to be seen as a cultural invasion for economic gains.

Culture has an ancient origin, and its lifespan goes back thousands of years.Culture has a life of its own. It cannot be bought or destroyed by anyone, and those of the present can only be guardians before passing it on to the next generation.

To understand that culture has economic value, a typical case is that of the Kelantanese wayang kulit, which is registered as a business owned by a local non-Malay man. Is it innovation or cultural theft, since the Tok Dalang derives the economic benefit and others have been turned into consumers of that culture, who formerly were part of that enduring legend? Turning patrons of a culture into consumers generates money for one who becomes the service provider. There is economic gain in this, and skilful marketing around the globe will increase its wealth.

Hikayat Seri Rama is an ancient recollection of memories presented through wayang kulit. Such storytelling across the Nusantara is a way for people to learn of the good and evil characters, their adventures, plot and trickery. In that manner, they preserve their past. In a civilised society, this storytelling is about humanity and love. This civil liberty cannot be usurped for economic gain, it can only be sustained.

To the Malays in Kelantan, this is not only cultural deprivation, but also economic deprivation in the long term. The perceptions of some Kelantanese resulting from this have political repercussions. They imply that it is the government that is preventing the Malays from any economic benefit from culture.

A community without a culture is like a ship without a mast or sail, especially when it is close to the shore. The ship can just drift away from the shore to forever remain lost in the open sea. \

I have no answer for my Kelantanese friend who asked: “In China, the man reputed to be the inventor of Chinese art and culture through writing, hunting, trapping and fishing was Fu Hsi. This has never changed, so, why then should Hikayat Seri Rama belonging to the Malays of the Nusantara be changed?”

It’s not just my Kelantanese friend who is asking this question; in fact, most people of conquered colonies like the Middle East, Morocco, Egypt, Taiwan and India, in ways they best know, demand their identities be given back to them.

Based on this reality, the priority of Unesco should be to create a statement against cultural terrorism and theft for long-term economic benefits. The entrepreneurs should come from among the guardians of the authentic culture. And, Unesco certainly has a facilitating role to play.

Letter to the New Straits Times, Updated: 31 DECEMBER 2015 at 11:02 AM
Why we need to preserve cultures
By Mena Jeyaram, Subang Jaya, Selangor
Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2015/12/119828/why-we-need-preserve-cultures

Refer to this Mr Yahho's Blog under the title of DZULKIFLI Abdul Razak, dated: December 30, 2015
# kampung means "village" in Malay



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'comfort women' deal with Japan

Dozens of young South Koreans took to the streets Saturday to protest a recent agreement between South Korea and Japan to resolve the issue of Korean women forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

The agreement, reached on Dec. 28, has sparked a wave of public protests among victims and their supporters, who claim Japan got the better side of the deal by obtaining Seoul's promise to settle the issue once and for all if Tokyo fulfills its commitments.

Under the deal, Japan apologized and acknowledged responsibility for the wartime crime and offered reparations of 1 billion yen (US$8.3 million) to the 46 surviving South Korean victims.

Historians estimate that more than 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japan's military during the war. Korea was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910-45. The victims are euphemistically called "comfort women."

More than 30 teenage activists from across the country held a press conference in front of the main government complex in Seoul, denouncing the agreement as "humiliating."

They demanded the Japanese government pay legal compensation to the victims, build a monument in their honor and conduct proper education on the history.

A group of university students held a separate press conference in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, where they accused the police of wielding violence while arresting them Thursday over a sudden protest held at a nearby building where the embassy has temporarily relocated to.

"The actions of the police resemble the violence of the meeting between the foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan that tried to erase the history of the comfort women," they said, referring to the meeting that produced the agreement.

Two of the victims, 89-year-old Kim Bok-dong and 87-year-old Kil Won-ok, are scheduled to attend a rally later in the day to demand the agreement be scrapped.


The Korean Times, Updated : 2016-01-02 17:41
Youth hold rallies protesting 'comfort women' deal
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2016/01/116_194495.html

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 − Japan should offer a “goodwill payment” to Malaysian women who were forced to provide sexual gratification to their soldiers during World War II, MCA said today, after its landmark deal with South Korean comfort women this week.

The ruling Chinese party’s head of public services and complaints Datuk Seri Michael Chong demanded the Japanese government acknowledge and make similar reparations for the sexual atrocities committed by its military on local women here during the war that ended 70 years ago.

“In view of this, we are seeking payment and justice for the victims who have endured emotional pain during the ordeal,” Chong was quoted by theSun daily as telling a news conference at Wisma MCA here.

The “goodwill payment” to Malaysia would be channelled into charities, he reportedly said.

Japan invaded peninsular Malaysia − then known as Malaya − in December 1941, before the attack on Pearl Harbour and soon took over control of government from the colonial British.

The Japanese similarly occupied Borneo for its oil resources from 1941 to 1945, until it officially conceded defeat to the Allies.

On Monday, Tokyo offered a “heartfelt apology” and a ‎\1-billion (RM35.63 million) payment to South Koreans who were forced into Japanese military brothels during World War II to act as what they euphemistically called “comfort women”.

Taiwan too has demanded Japan offer an apology and compensation for the island nation’s wartime sex slaves.


MCA wants Japan to offer ‘goodwill’ deal for Malaysian WWII sex slaves too

Photo: After Japan agreed to compensate South Korea over the ‘comfort women’ issue, MCA is also calling for similar reparations for ‘sex slaves’ in Malaya during WWII.

See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/mca-wants-japan-to-offer-goodwill-deal-for-malaysian-wwii-sex-slaves-too#sthash.ytXelKTV.dpuf

AN AUSTRALIAN woman forced into sex slavery in World War II says she's trembling with anger at a Japanese Government advertisement denying the war-time atrocities.

Adelaide resident Jan Ruff-O'Herne says she has lost all respect for the Japanese Government following the advertisement which appeared in yesterday's Washington Post newspaper.

The advertisement, signed by 44 members of Japan's parliament, seeks to share "the truth with the American people" about the 200,000 "comfort women" who were driven into brothels during WWII.

"No historical document has ever been found by historians or research organisations that positively demonstrates that women were forced against their will into prostitution by the Japanese army," the ad said under the title, in bold letters, "THE FACTS".

Ms Ruff-O'Herne said she was appalled by the advertisement. "My esteem for the Japanese Government has completely gone down the drain," she said. "It's absolutely appalling."

The 84-year-old Adelaide woman travelled to Washington DC in February to speak before a US House of Representatives hearing on Protecting the Human Rights of "comfort women".

The advertisement says: "The ianfu (comfort women) who were embedded with the Japanese army were not, as is commonly reported, 'sex slaves'. They were working under a system of licensed prostitution that was commonplace around the world at the time."

It adds that many of the women made more money than field officers "and even generals".

The ad acknowledges that there were "breakdowns in discipline". "Criticism for events that actually occurred must be humbly embraced," it says.

"But apologies over unfounded slander and defamation will not only give the public an erroneous impression of historical reality but could negatively affect the friendship between the US and Japan."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sparked controversy in March by saying there was no evidence the imperial army directly coerced thousands of "comfort women" into brothels across Asia during World War II.

This week conservative Japanese MPs urged China to remove photographs and exhibits from museums that they claim distort the truth about Tokyo's actions before and during World War II. The campaign coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre in which Beijing says Japanese soldiers slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Chinese.


theage.com.au, Published: June 16, 2007
Japanese MPs deny sex slavery
By Steve Larkin
http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/japanese-mps-deny-sex-slavery/2007/06/15/1181414548682.html


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Freak heatwave

MONTREAL-AFP: Temperatures at the North Pole rose above freezing point Wednesday, 20 degrees Celsius above the mid-winter norm and the latest abnormality in a season of extreme weather events.

Canadian weather authorities blamed the temperature spike on the freak depression which has already brought record Christmas temperatures to North America and lashed Britain with winds and floods.

The deep low pressure area is currently looming over Iceland and churning up hurricane force 75-knot winds and 30-foot waves in the north Atlantic while dragging warm air northwards.

“It’s a very violent and extremely powerful depression, so it’s not surprising that hot temperatures have been pushed so far north,” said Canadian government meteorologist Nathalie Hasell.

“This deep depression has pushed hot air as far as the North Pole, where temperatures are at least 20 degrees above normal, at around freezing point, between zero and two degrees,” she said.

US scientists from the North Pole Environmental Observatory told AFP that the temperatures had climbed suddenly.

An Arctic monitoring point 180 miles (300 kilometers) from the Pole that had been recording minus 37 degrees on Monday had shot up to minus eight by Wednesday, said senior researcher James Morison.

The polar region is the area of the world that has seen the most profound effects of climate change in recent decades.

Average year-round temperatures in the Arctic are three degrees Celsius higher than they were in the pre-industrial era, snowfall is heavier, winds are stronger and the ice sheet has been shrinking for 30 years.

El Nino
It would be too hasty, however, to pin this week’s extreme weather directly on the man-made climate change phenomenon, rather than on a discreet anomaly.

Hasell said that Canada has not kept complete records of North Pole weather but that it was nonetheless “bizarre” to see such high temperatures on the ice pack in the middle of its long night.

After tormenting the North Atlantic, the depression is expected to head towards Russia’s Siberia, where the inhabitants can expect a heatwave of sorts.

In Canada, the capital of the Nunavut territory of the native Inuit, Iqaluit, celebrated a relatively balmy Christmas when temperatures rose to minus 4.6 degrees -- up from an average of minus 21.

Baffin Island, better known for its snow and ice, experienced unheard of rainfall in December, said David Phillips of Canada’s Environment Ministry.

“It’s doubtless the El Nino effect, venturing further north,” he told AFP, referring to a tropical Pacific weather phenomenon that reoccurs every four to seven years in more southerly climes.

The 2015 El Nino is regarded as perhaps the most powerful in a century and, combined with the effects of climate change, it has generated storms, flood and droughts in Central America and beyond.

Dozens of Americans were killed in rare, late season tornados in the southern United States before Christmas, and then the hot El Nino air was dragged north along the Atlantic coast bringing T-shirt weather to normally frigid cities.

The Star, Updated: Thursday, 31 December 2015, MYT 11:10 AM
Freak heatwave pushes winter North Pole above freezing

Photo by AFP: This Nasa photo obtained November 24, 2015 shows the Heimdal Glacier in southern Greenland, captured on October 13, from NASA Langley Research Center's Falcon 20 aircraft flying 33,000 feet above mean sea level during NASA’s Operation IceBridge, an airborne survey of polar ice.

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/world/2015/12/31/freak-heatwave-pushes-winter-north-pole-above-freezing/



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Sunny escape from the cold

GEORGE TOWN: With freezing winter and raging storms going on elsewhere in the world, many tourists flock to Penang and some are staying here for stretches of three to five months.

The sea, sun and sand here are the main attractions that make nonagenarian Eric Moir fly 24 hours from England annually for the past 28 years.

Moir, 91, said he first visited Penang in 1987 with his wife, who had passed away in Penang during Christmas two years ago.

“I come back to Penang every year since then during the winter as I like the seaside and warm weather here.

“The cold in England will kill me at my age,” he laughed.

He said although he had difficulty walking due to his old age, he would still travel 24 hours on three flights from Gatwick in London to Dubai in UAE and to Kuala Lumpur before finally landing in Penang.

“Other than the beach and the pleasant weather, the locals also make me feel at home,” he added.

“Penangites are friendly and helpful. Seeing me with my walking stick, they will come over to offer help.

“I have made friends with many locals, and I was even invited to a Malay wedding in Batu Ferringhi a few years ago. I am hoping to see the family again this visit,” he said when met at Flamingo Hotel by the Beach in Tanjung Bungah, Penang, yesterday.

Moir has been here since early last month and will be leaving on March 7.

British couple Doreen, 77, and Michael Hemingway, 67, have also been annual returning guests since the late 1980s.

“What attracted us most when we first came here was the serenity of the island.

“There were not many high-rise buildings in Penang and everywhere there were monkeys playing by the roadside.

“The ride from to the Penang airport to Batu Ferringhi had been beautiful,” said Michael, who arrived on Dec 9 and will depart on Feb 11.

He said although there are many new developments in Penang, he was glad for its scenery of the hills and sea.

Michael added that he also loved the local food here.

Another long-staying couple of the hotel are Donald, 84, and Gwen Purdy, 82, from West Yorkshire, who are staying in Penang for five months.

Gwen said she saw herself as living in Penang rather than having a holiday.

“We are retirees and we enjoy staying in Penang. We won’t visit tourist spots. What we do in Penang is what we usually do back home. We will wake up early, have a cup of coffee, read the papers, go for breakfast and enjoy the breeze by the poolside.

“I also enjoy doing cross-stitch on my balcony,” she said.

She added that Donald had undergone a heart bypass surgery a few years ago and the harsh winter in their country was not good for him.

“The temperature can fall to -10 degree Celcius at times.

“Penang is one of the best spots for us to escape winter,” she said, adding that they were looking forward to celebrating the New Year, Thaipusam and Chinese New Year here too.

Donald said: “The only thing we don’t like is the over-development with all the high-rise buildings.

“The scene was different years ago. Foreigners want to see the different cultures in Penang and not international-style buildings,” he added.


the Star, Published: Friday, 1 January 2016
British tourists keep returning to Penang for its warm weather and friendly locals
By Crystal Chiam Shiying
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/01/01/sunny-escape-from-the-cold-british-tourists-keep-returning-to-penang-for-its-warm-weather-and-friend/

Visitors to Malaysia may fall in love first with its year-round sunny climate, having escaped the dreary cold of their own homes. In fact...

Cole died Thursday from congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The
singer, who had recently been forced to cancel several tour dates because of poor health, suffered from hepatitis C and various health complications from a 2009 kidney transplant from which she never fully recovered, according to her publicist, Maureen O'Connor. She was 65.

“Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived … with dignity, strength and honor,” the singer's son Robert Yancy and her sisters Timolin and Casey Cole said in a statement. “Our beloved mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain unforgettable in our hearts forever.”

In a statement released Friday, Neil Portnow, president and chief executive of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, called Cole “one of music's most celebrated and iconic women” and “a wonderful, highly cherished artist.”

As news of Cole's death spread Friday morning, many who had known her − whether up close or from afar − including fellow performers Cher, Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett, took to social media to offer their tributes to a singer who had experienced both triumphs and tragedies.

“As the new year was ushered in, an angelic instrument moved on,” singer Lenny Kravitz wrote on Instagram. “Natalie Cole's voice was perfection. And what a lady.”
...


Los Angeles Times, Published: January 1, 2016
Natalie Cole dies at 65; 'Unforgettable' singer was daughter of legendary Nat King Cole
Times staff writers Randy Lewis, Susan King and Frank Shyong and former staff writer Robert Hilburn contributed to this report.
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-singer-natalie-cole-dead-20160101-story.html


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