Archive for April, 2009

Donning a face-mask is an easy way to protect oneself from severe respiratory illnesses like swine flu when vaccines are unavailable or in short supply, according to a study.

In the first ever clinical trial of the efficacy of masks, researchers found adult mask wearers at home were four times more likely than non-wearers to be protected against a range of respiratory viruses, including influenza, SARS and even the common cold.

The findings have global implications and are particularly relevant for efforts to combat flu pandemics such as the latest outbreak of swine flu.

“In the event of a severe pandemic, demand for protection could become a law and order issue,” said study co-author, Raina MacIntyre, professor of infectious diseases at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

“In a crisis, vaccine development is likely to be delayed and drugs may be in short supply or not available at all,” she said.

“Limited supplies will be directed first to front line health workers, so masks are an important means of protection for the community, who otherwise may be last in line for vaccines and drugs.”

Researchers at UNSW, Imperial College (London) and the National Centre for Immunization Research studied more than 280 adults in 143 families in Sydney during the winter season of 2006 and 2007.The adults were randomly allocated masks when exposed to a sick child in the household.

MacIntyre said a drawback was participants’ low compliance, with less than half reporting having worn the masks often or always, said a UNSW release.

These findings were published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, the journal of the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two Indian brothers running a pharmacy in Baker Street, Central London are seducing Britons with a “veggie” condom that has gone on sale in health shops across Britain.

Shanip and Ketan Shah’s veggie-rubbers are made without the milk-based casing used in other condoms and have the vegan logo, an initiative which the brothers believe would encourage young people to use the Fusion condoms for safe sex.

“Vegans might not have realised there’s a milk extract in most condoms. We want to help this group make an informed choice about safe sex,” Shanip of Fusion Condoms was quoted by the Daily Mirror as saying.

There are 180,000 British vegans, who don’t eat dairy products also, and three million vegetarians.

And according to the brothers, a number of health food stores have recently placed orders of Fusion condoms with the brand gaining popularity across the country due to its “vegan” status.

The Fusion condoms are also environment-friendly due to its cardboard packaging, which means they are likely to be the choice of many young people who are environmentally aware and prefer safe sex.

Accused by rivals of failing to ensure ceasefire in Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today went on a sudden fast declaring he was ready to be “yet another victim” of violence in the island nation.

In a surprise move, the 84-year-old Chief Minister drove to the memorial of late C N Annadurai early this morning and sat on a fast there demanding immediate ceasefire in the Sri Lankan army’s offensive against the LTTE.

“Let me be one of Rajapaksa’s (Sri Lankan President’s) victims,” he told reporters at the fast site.

“This is my sacrifice on behalf of all Tamils,” said Mr. Karunanidhi, who recently underwent a major surgery for his back pain.

In in the meanwhile Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke over phone to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

Sitting on a wheel chair, Mr. Karunanidhi said he did not want DMK men to go on a fast. “It is my decision and I do not want others to join,” he said even as a host of DMK leaders, including his daughter Kanimozhi and his grand nephew Kalanidhi Maran rushed to spot to see him.

Huge crowds of DMK supporters gathered at the fast site near the Marina beach.

Mr. Karunanidhi’s two wives Dayalu and Rajathi were at the fast site where a bed was also placed, indicating that it could be a long drawn affair.

Prominent leaders including Union Minister T R Baalu and state minister Arcot Veeraswamy were among those present at the fast site.

Now please take a good look at all the faces. Yes, yes, these are the chaps who are the champions of the Malay race. No, no, they are not Malays and this is according to my Bajau friend from Kota Belud. They are wannabe Malays. Mamaks? Yes Mamaks.

The fellow with a songkok, Thajudeen, described Malaysia Today commentators as “uneducated beasts” and he wants MT commentators to be exiled from this country and hanged by the balls.

The fellow with a songkok and his group of clowns had lodged a police report yesterday,  in the Sentul district police headquarters against Malaysia Today commentators. After the report was lodged this group of clowns yelled “Hidup Melayu! Hidup Tuanku! Allah Akbar!.”

You know what, my old English friend said this, noticed Indian Muslims when fighting for Malay Rights are always the loudest. They are not even Malays to begin with and strangely the Malays themselves let others shout on their behalf. Sort of outsourcing their hard work to others while they busily collect rent.

It sounds so real.

Just got word that Pet is safe and sound in England. Thank God!

Pet had to go away from Malaysia as he had reasons to believe that a new detention order under the Internal Security Act (ISA) had been issued by the Police and they were looking for him high and low the last few days to put him off permanently.

Even Pet’s buddies were not spared by the cops as they too had been monitored and in some cases even questioned by the apparatus.

Pet did not turn up to the Petaling Jaya Sessions court yesterday for the continuation of his sedition trial which was connected to the posting he made in Malaysia Today website which was allegedly a seditious article entitled ‘Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell’.

Hence, an arrest warrant had been issued against Pet for failing to appear in the Petaling Jaya Sessions Court yesterday for the continuation of this sedition trial.

Before Pet left for UK this is what he had to say, “I would never be allowed to leave. The police would immediately detain me and send me to Kamunting and this time I shall not be so fortunate as to see freedom in two months like in the last two occasions”.

So, what is Malaysia coming to? Why is Raja Petra being hounded and sought by the apparatus to be placed under fresh ISA arrest warrant and fresh charges of treason made against him, but, Razak Baginda tried for murder is acquitted and no appeal is made by the Attorney General’s office? Sounds funny here. Why the double standards?

It seems like Malaysia is in a state of anarchy where might is right. To anyone outside the Malaysian government it is obvious who Raja Petra is: a well-informed critic of a corrupt regime. Its not wrong to think that the fresh ISA detention order is a way of putting him beyond the reach of the courts, where the specious actions against him can be exposed for what they are.

As Pet says himself, “heads they win, tails I lose”.

As usual the mainstream media is spinning again. Today Bernama started the ball rolling by this headlines “Ruckus on first day of Penang Assembly sitting.”

Ruckus, what ruckus? There was no ruckus at all at the Assembly. Only thing that happened was my good friend YB  R. S. N. Rayer (DAP-Seri Delima) told opposition leader Datuk Azhar Ibrahim (BN-Penaga) not to give a lecture but go direct with the question. The exact words used by Rayer was “we don’t want to listen to a lecture, don’t waste time, pose your question”.

Sure YB Azhar’s ego was bruised by Rayer, but there was no ruckus. The assemblymen were only exchanging views.

Here is the Bernama’s spin.

With all the spinning, it is with good riddance that we watch mainstream papers going down the slippery slope in terms of readership and declining circulations. In time we will watch them go. An essential part of life is the cyclic nature of the life cycle. Death is an important cleansing to make way for the new.

The Internet or the new media (as some call) win because truth longs to be free, as in zero cost.

Yes, I’m not getting paid to write here, but I appreciate the great diversity of viewpoints that I can read in the Internet. I can digest all of the comments here and at other blogs and form my own opinion instead of reading one editor’s opinion. If there’s a mistake, someone will call it out. That’s the missing link between the blogs and the mainstream papers.

Anyway, the real accelerator of the death of the mainstream media is it’s failure to understand transparency. In fact, it’s the death of a lot of old school ideas.

Think about why communism dies? It’s not transparent. There’s got to be someone behind the curtain trying to pretend that it’s all good, even when it’s not. Editors at the mainstream are the same way. Obsessed with spinning the story. A million examples of their spin every day. A million examples of their double standards every day.

It’s become so common, that it’s now a bad joke, and there is no surprise government sponsored mainstream media is dying.

Today’s Headlines in the Daily Express Sabah “REJECTED LEADERS, NOT BN.”

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak while addressing 15,000 people at his official homecoming celebration in Pekan said Malaysians only rejected BN leaders who were not close to them but not the Barisan Nasional itself.

Sure or not, Mr Prime Minister? If that is the case, how come you have taken into your Cabinet, rejected by Penangites, this former, Penang Chief Minister Koh Tsu Koon.

Tsu Koon or Sleeping Koon as he is known in Penang is a clear case of REJECTED politician and you Mr Prime Minister have put him in your cabinet and this is adding salt to the injury. Are you saying here Mr Prime Minister that Tsu Koon is an exception and he does not fall into the rejected category? Or are you sending a signal to Penangites that they have no choice but to accept Tsu Koon as their representative in the Federal Government?

Your appointment as PM is amazing by any standard. But more than it suggests that the people wanted you, it means that they were sick of Pak Lah — sick of his flip-flop character, his conduct as a person and sick of his identification with KJ and the 4th floor boys.

Last night, you were entitled to rejoice over Pak Lah’s mistakes, but you must learn from them and be another kind of prime minister. Mr PM, your homecoming speech last night was a great television performance. No two ways about it, this is your turf.

A small piece of advice, my 2 cents worth.

Prime ministers are measured by their ability to devise policy and make decisions and, at the same time, by their ability to surround themselves with the best possible political forces. Naturally, there is an inherent contradiction — those who favor change are faced with resistance; those who favor unity find change difficult.

All prime ministers know how to take, but a successful prime minister also knows how to share. All prime ministers know how to lash out, but a successful prime minister also knows how to exercise restraint. The job offers tremendous power and a stage on which the attention of many is fixed. All prime ministers know how to exploit these realities, but not all prime ministers know how not to misuse them.

You must staff your office and your government with the best people. People like Koh Tsu Koon should have no place. Personal loyalty is a consideration, but there are more important ones. Credibility, for instance. Experience. A serious demeanor. Open-mindedness. Remember, Pak Lah’s biggest failure was in choosing his people.

Last week, after Pak Lah was forced to concede power to you, there was a popular joke going around in KL: Someone came to Pak Lah’s door in Jalan Bellamy and asked to speak to the prime minister. “Pak Lah is no longer prime minister,” answered his wife Jeanne. “Thank you,” the man said, and he left. Fifteen minutes later, the man returned and again asked to speak with the prime minister, only to receive the same response. After another 15 minutes, the man returned a third time and asked if he could have a word with the prime minister. “I told you,” Jeanne retorted, “Pak Lah is no longer prime minister. Do you understand?” “Perfectly,” the man replied, “but I like to keep hearing it.”

Arunachalam Chrishanthakumar, a property valuer and founder of the British Tamil Association, was on Friday convicted of terror charges.

The LTTE is banned in the U.K. as a terrorist organisation.

Chrishanthakumar (52) of South London was convicted of supplying bomb-making equipment to the LTTE and receiving documents for the purpose of terrorism.

But the jury at Kingston Crown Court failed to reach a verdict on three other charges including the allegation that he is a member of the LTTE.

A decision on whether there should be a re-trial is expected to be taken next week.

The court was told that Chrishanthakumar, known as “Shantham”, was warned in 2004 after he bought boots and handcuffs for the LTTE but despite the warning he continued to help it with material some of which had “an obvious terrorist purpose”.

There are an estimated 300,000 Tamils in the UK, a majority of them in London.

Specially for all my lady friends, please read this….

Active young women who use oral contraceptives (OC) may be setting back their muscle gains, according to a study.

“We were surprised at the magnitude of differences in muscle gains between the two groups, with the non-OC women gaining more than 60 percent greater muscle mass than their OC counterpart,” the researchers said.

Seventy-three generally healthy women between the ages of 18-31 were assigned to two groups and completed a 10-week whole-body resistance exercise training (RET).

Group one comprised of 34 women who used OC. Group 2 consisted of 39 women who did not take birth control pills (non-OC).

The women were encouraged to consume at least half a gram of protein per pound of body weight per day to make sure they consumed enough calories and protein to promote muscle growth.

They exercised three times per week for 10 weeks under supervision.

Blood samples were taken before and after the training and assessed to measure anabolic (muscle building) and catabolic (muscle breaking) hormone levels in blood.

Resting and fasting blood concentrations were measured for three anabolic hormones: DHEA, DHEAS and IGF1.

Researchers found that there were significant differences in lean mass gains. However, other muscle responses such as strength gains and arm/leg circumferences were similar between the OC and non-OC users.

Resting/fasting blood concentrations of the anabolic hormones were significantly lower in women taking OC versus non-OC users throughout the study. At the same time, plasma concentrations of cortisol (catabolic hormone) were elevated.

The OC users had reduced DHEA hormones at the end of the training period. By contrast, the non-OC user’s levels did not change.