Archive for December, 2012

New Year’s Resolution Poem

Sunday, December 30th, 2012
Happiness is all around
Celebrate the joy along
New year is on the way
New promises bearing a sway

Spread the love message
Of hope and courage
To fight all odds
With sharp swords

New year is all set to roll
Bundle of smiles with no toll
Go back in memories and take a stroll
Search for the missed goals

Thinking about the thing you long
Try to eliminate the wrong
Build a new resolution
Fulfilling it by the year’s completion

Happy New Year!!!

by Benhur Soans.

Happy New Year

Sunday, December 30th, 2012
He bore an uncanny resemblance to a film star of old,
The gaunt look of a vampire, a lost and lonely soul,
One day, inside his mirror, he found his one and only friend,
Through a one-way conversation that only he could comprehend.

In his youth, he was a dandy, had a lady on each arm,
His handsome eyes would mesmerize and his tongue would roll with charm,
To deny him was futile when caught up in his stare,
His wizardry was legendary, spellbinding in its fare.

He lived the life of Riley, carefree with his sins,
Aversed himself to the rigmarole of where honesty begins,
For youth was not a charity to the vain and selfish trade,
Caught in the pomp and circumstance of an egomaniac’s parade.

As the years rolled by the veil of sin crept silent as a shadow,
The eyes grew dark, the tongue grew sharp, with curses for tomorrow,
The alcohol had taken its toll, the fun had run its course,
Now he drinks to kill the memory of his encroaching remorse.

So he stands before the mirror with his dark and empty stare,
Wandering through his sorrow, through the pain that he must bear,
Another year comes to an end, just one more unwritten page,
Another empty thought of yesterday lost to drunken sacrilege.

My lady, may the new year bring warm comfort to your heart,
Me? I shall stand alone to count my many battle scars,
Within the warmth of my own shadow, I shall parry with my thoughts,
Until, defeated by my loneliness, I cede unto my broken heart.

by Harry Beslem

Present trends will continue

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

The new year will start with two economic crisis events in the United States but otherwise, we can expect 2013 to continue with the trends of the passing year.

IF 2012 is the year that did not bring about the end of the world, then 2013 should be the beginning of a new era, according to the Mayan prophecy.

But it is unlikely the new year will herald a brand new age for the world as a whole.

More probably, it will continue the trends in the old year but in more pronounced and deeply felt ways.

The year 2013 starts with the United States falling off the “fiscal cliff” or else escaping from that at the last moment.

If the fiscal cliff takes effect fully, up to four percentage points of GNP are expected to be sucked out of the US economy due to tax increases and government spending cuts combined, thus resulting in a new recession.

Another problem will soon reach crisis point.

The US government debt will reach its mandated limit around now, and President Barack Obama and Congress will have one to two months to negotiate an increase in that limit before the administration runs out of money to pay for its operations or service its debts.

Thus, we can expect the first two months of 2013 to be preoccupied with the drama of the US politics on debt, taxes and government spending.

It seems that the President-Congress and Democrat-Repub­li­can bitter battles of the last few years will return at the start of Obama’s second term.

If so, the United States’ political paralysis will be reflected in economic policy deadlocks.

The economic crises in the United States, and how they play out, will have a big impact on 2013 worldwide, especially since Europe is already in the midst of a recession.

With the uncertainties in the major developed economies, and the softening of the economies of China, India, Brazil, most developing countries will face economic difficulties this year but the extent of this is to be seen.

On the political front, the ongoing economic turmoil will lead to political changes in many European countries, and the future of the European Union and the Eurozone will themselves come under significant strains.

The next chapter of the Middle East drama is quite unpredictable. Israel, with its right-ward tilt, is expected to become even more aggressive, as its recent plan for more settlements in Jerusalem shows, and this may increase its isolation further.

But whether the Palestinian parties can unite and take advantage of its strong resistance in Gaza, its new UN-adopted status as a state, and the decline in Israel’s international support, is to be seen.

The Iran nuclear issue will continue to occupy news attention, with the Western countries having to decide whether to negotiate with Iran or intensify the sanctions (or both) or prepare for a military attack (thankfully, this does not seem likely).

The Syrian civil war will still dominate the TV channels as it enters another phase and perhaps an end-game, while the continued struggle for Egypt’s future political and social system will also have major effects on the region and the world.

In Asia, the world will watch closely whether the final stage of China’s leadership change-over to the new President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang in March will begin a new era or continue the policies of the past decade.

Malaysia will have its place in the global spotlight with the general election, which will most likely take place in March.

Whatever the results, this closely contested election will be a watershed in the political life of the nation.

by Martin Khor.

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Top New Year’s Resolutions

Sunday, December 30th, 2012
Listing the top New Year’s resolutions has become a popular activity for New Year parties all over the world. Everyone enjoys listening to each other’s quirky and funny resolutions for the new year and see who can come up with the best new year resolutions.
New Year’s resolutions are commitments or promises people make to themselves to change or modify their lifestyles for the better. Over the years, let’s just say over the past decade, even I came up with some resolutions that I kept. I’ve always had every intention of fulfilling them, but somehow have ended up going in the opposite direction. New Year’s Eve is just around the corner and all my friends are getting ready with their latest resolutions. Some of them come up with funny resolutions and others, like to make serious changes. Whether it’s for your family, friends or co-workers, you can come up with resolutions that are a fun way to invite the coming year. Here are my favorite New Year’s resolutions. Let’s see if they can get a smile on your face.

Resolutions You Should Definitely Make

“My New Year’s resolution is to gain weight. So I’m going to eat lots and lots of chocolate, which is not only going to make me gain weight but also give me an excuse to eat them.”
“There are many different cuisines in the world, so I’m going to make it a point that I try at least two, different cuisines each month.”
“Smoking is bad for everyone’s health. I am making a resolution to help as many friends as I can to quit smoking.”
“My family and friends are the most important people in my life. I want to capture each and every memory shared with them, so I’ll take as many pictures of us together as possible.”
“Our world consists of vast diversities of cultures and religions. It’s a shame that I know nothing about more than half of the world, hence, this year I want to start with my self-education of world cultures.”
“When I was in high school I used to work for a children’s orphanage and I want to continue my passion towards helping children in need.”
“I am going to stop lending large sums of money to people I don’t trust.”

“My most important business New Year’s resolution is to be more open towards my colleagues and stop being shy.”
“I have a very forgetful nature and tend to blank out people’s birthdays and important events. So, I have bought a new calendar that I am going to stick on my fridge, with all the important birthdays marked on it.”
“Every year, on my birthday, I end up spending time in the city. I want to see the world and what all that is out there, so I’ve made a resolution to go to a new country every year and discover new possibilities.”

Common Resolutions People Make

Some commonly heard resolutions that can/may be simple or difficult to follow through the year.

Quit smoking/drinking
Eat healthy foods and lose weight
Pay off debts
Read more books
Concentrate more on studies
Save money
Donate time and/or money to poor
Reduce work-related and/or family-related stress
Keep house/room clean
Spend more time with family and friends

Resolutions Professionals Need to Make

To strike a healthy work-life balance, here are some examples of common resolutions, which you may or may not have heard, related to business.

Get a decent paying job in this recession
Get out of debt problems
Get promoted by next year
Make new friends at work
Reach office on time
Take time-off from work to be with family
Get an increment in the next 6 months
Promote business effectively and efficiently
Fewer or no more layoffs
Make the office more environment friendly
Hire someone who’s perfect for the job

Whether you’re planning an evening out with family, friends or colleagues, make sure to come up with your own version of New Year’s resolution to liven up your party. The tradition of coming up with New Year’s resolutions is a great way to bid goodbye to the past year and welcome the future. Celebrate with people close to you and enjoy this fun way of entering the new year.

Happy New Year!
by Sheetal Mandora.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Congress in 2013

Friday, December 28th, 2012

While many Americans resolve to make 2013 the year they really do slim down, exercise more, and spend less, Congress could afford to commit to a few such resolutions of its own. Call them budget resolutions—something Congress hasn’t had in a while. Here are five suggestions:

  1. Cut spending. The federal government is on course to run a trillion-dollar-plus deficit for the fifth consecutive year, driven by excessive spending. It spent $29,691 per household in 2012, borrowing $3.20 of every $10 it spent. Just as families must make budget priorities and live within their means, so too should Congress. Lawmakers should scale back the size and scope of the federal government, reform entitlement programs, and root out waste and abuse. If debt and deficits are ever going to be brought under control, Congress must curb its spending addiction.
  2. Return to the regular budget process. Congress has fallen out of the practice of budgeting, instead opting for ad hoc budget measures such as the debt limit deal (Budget Control Act of 2011) and continuing resolutions to fund the government. Budgeting is one of Congress’s main responsibilities; it forces Congress to regularly prioritize spending on programs, which is sorely needed. Congress must return to budgeting according to the regular order to control spending and promote transparency.
  3. Avoid budget gimmicks. Lawmakers and the White House have demonstrated their penchant for claiming savings that do not in fact exist. Practices currently en vogue include counting already planned reductions in war spending, promising vague savings, and exploiting budget loopholes to justify “emergency” spending and disaster assistance without offsetting it with cuts elsewhere. Lawmakers should reject these gimmicks and build their budget on policies that deliver real savings to restore their credibility and to rein in spending.
  4. Reform entitlement programs. Much more ominous than the fiscal cliff is the country’s real fiscal crisis, driven by the unsustainable growth in entitlement program spending. Social Security and Medicare spending in particular will be unaffordable if these programs remain unchanged. By the time today’s kindergartners enter college, spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and interest on the debt will consume all tax revenue. Congress should pursue reforms with confidence, as some entitlement reforms—raising the Social Security and Medicare eligibility ages, adopting a more accurate measure of inflation for Social Security’s cost-of-living-adjustments, or reducing the Medicare subsidy for upper-income beneficiaries—claim bipartisan support. Bottom line: Washington must get serious about entitlement reform in 2013.
  5. Say NO to tax increases. Hiking taxes, particularly on the wealthy, as President Obama and some lawmakers want to do, would harm job creation when it is most needed. Higher taxes won’t fix Washington’s spending problem, relieve the burden of entitlement program spending, or close budget deficits. Tax hikes would only ensure more spending. Lawmakers must resist pressure to raise taxes and instead remain steadfast in efforts to cut spending.

The start of a new year invites a sense of optimism and offers an opportunity to get back on course. To reduce uncertainty in the economy, save young Americans from a mountain of federal debt, and restore its own institutional integrity, Congress should embrace these resolutions.

by Emily Goff.

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Ensuring road safety

Friday, December 28th, 2012

INSURING school children being ferried by school buses to and from school cannot but be good.

In fact, it should have long been the practice, if for no other reason than to remove the traffic congestion that occurs when school starts and breaks up because those parents, fearing for their children’s safety, insist on sending and picking their kids up themselves and their waiting vehicles parked carelessly block other road users. Now, however, with the announcement by the government that each child using a school bus registered with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) — including private arrangements — will be insured for a sum of RM100,000 each, parents need no longer suffer  anxieties regarding the safety of their children on the road. Furthermore, and more importantly, the conditions placed alongside the provision will further strengthen the safety of the children.

For, the benefits of imposing on operators to register the buses with the SPAD will help organise the school bus industry in a beneficial way. Firstly, no longer will those parents forced to rely on the buses be cavalier about their choice. They will want to benefit from this insurance scheme, which will be borne wholly by the government for two years. This will force operators to register. Secondly, once registered the buses will be inspected for road worthiness if not by the SPAD then, most surely, by the insurance company. Thirdly, the latter will also take into account the competence of drivers. Indeed, the National Parent-Teachers Association has voiced their request for these buses to be provided with co-drivers to ensure that drivers are not over extended because of long hours behind the wheel.

Nevertheless, in the daily operation of the service, there is a need for continuous vigilance, but it is impossible for SPAD or the insurance companies to provide the means. In this respect, therefore, the best ears and eyes are the children themselves. Parents and teachers should encourage the children to report any incident that gives rise to concern in the children. Listening and then investigating the stories related by the children would be the best way to guarantee that operators remain ever mindful of their responsibility to their passengers.

NST Editorial.

Tackling obesity trend

Friday, December 28th, 2012

One of the current and future health problems for our country is noncommunicable disease and its related risk factor i.e. overweight and obesity.

Obesity levels are on the rise the world over as well as in our country. This is a sign that something is amiss with our diet and physical activity levels.

So what causes this problem and what can be done to solve it?

It pays to first have a look at what is likely to have caused this increase in the prevalence of obesity.

It’s important to note that it wasn’t a specific group within the population that became heavy; it seems as if everybody started getting a bit fatter, though some more than others.

Such a pattern suggests broad environmental changes were at work.

And energy balance calculations suggest a small mismatch between average energy intake and expenditure.

But was the driver a decrease in physical activity or an increase in consumption, or both?

Although facilitated by low levels of physical activity in many countries, a recent study published in the Lancet argues the main driving force of the obesity pandemic is an increase in consumption.

A range of interventions to reduce overweight and obesity throughout the world were examined and the most promising intervention targeted populations, not individuals.

Many current solutions in Malaysia are dependent on the individual. They include smoking cessation, vaccination uptake, various forms of screening, reduce body weight, exercise etc.

These solutions depend on people accepting preventive and treatment services or taking preventive action themselves, and here is an important problem with the individual approach.

The prevalence of adverse risk factors such as obesity, smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet is in the population at large.

Appealing to individual willpower to change leads to a financial and non-financial costs of personal lifestyle.

So, the overall success of individual approaches can be impressive, but limited.

A more strategic population approach is exemplified by mass public health environmental control. This is best undertaken at national level.

Limiting population to individually dependent approaches is not likely to achieve the shifts in population health envisaged for a fully engaged population and a manageable Malaysian health system in the future.

by Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar.

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Treasure the little children

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Children are our treasures, our future. If people cannot treasure our young ones, maybe they should pass them on to others who can. After all, it’s our collective future that’s at stake.

It’s the Christmas season, the season to be merry. It’s that time of the year when the jolly old man in the Coca-Cola red-and-white outfit goes around the world on his sleigh pulled by supersonic reindeers, handing out presents via chimneys that most houses don’t have any more.

But why worry about chimneys and red-nosed reindeers? It’s the presents that matter.

What matters even more are the children who receive the presents. The smiles, the grins, the shrieks of delight when the presents are opened – those precious moments are what make any festivity worthwhile.

This year, the presents were mostly electronic. Gone are the days of the toy train, the light sabre and remote-controlled cars.

In their place are now the iPads, the Gameboys, the iPhones and a myriad other gadgets from Samsung and other electronics makers.

While the presents may have changed, the aim remains the same – the happiness of the children.

This year, though, I could not help but feel a deep sadness within me. As the laughter of the children rang around me, as they ran around shouting in joy, my thoughts were on other children.

I thought of the 20 children who had been brutally gunned down in a school in Newtown, Connecticut. What of their parents and siblings? What of their Christmas? What would they be feeling? What would be under the Christmas trees in their homes, if indeed a tree had been put up?

How could someone hurt innocent children, what more kill them?

The thoughts moved closer to home.

In China, police have busted a human trafficking ring, freeing more than 80 children who had been cooped up like so many chicken waiting to be sold.

Had they not been rescued, god only knows what would have become of them.

And right here, at our doorstep – a man beating up a three-year-old. I watched the video and have no words to describe the treatment dished out to the boy.

How could anyone bring himself to rain adult-sized blows on a child for minutes on end?

He threw the child to the ground only to order the child to pick himself up. When the child did, he was beaten and thrown to the ground again. It happened again, and again and again.

I don’t know what I felt watching that terrible video – horror, disgust, contempt, anger – all of that and more. A friend opined that it was the way some people brought up their children – to toughen them up so they could take on a brutal, violent world.

Really? Why wait for others to kill your kid when you can kill him yourself, is that it?

A man has been charged for the offence. If he is guilty, I hope he is put away for a long time.

A welder has also been remanded. In his case, the child is dead. The boy was just two. He had bruises all over his body, his private parts and internal organs. How the child must have suffered.

And yet another case, another child, another murder. This time, it was a one-year-old girl. She had been stomped on until her bones were fractured and her face badly damaged. The culprit then set the child’s poor, broken body alight.

What abominable monster would do this to a child?

We are told Christmas is a time for giving and caring. But it is also a time to pause and reflect.

Pause and reflect, we should.

As the laughter and joy of Christmas dies down, we should stop to think of those children for whom there is no laughter and no joy – for children who have parents who don’t care; people who have offspring but have no idea of what parenting is.

In many parts of the world – in Yemen, in Afghanistan, in Ethiopia and yes, even here in Malaysia – there are children having children. And when they do, they have no idea about what to do with their babies.

by D. Raj.

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Education Ministry announces another 25 HPS

Friday, December 28th, 2012

PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry has announced another 25 High Performance Schools (HPS), bringing the total number to 91.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin said RM18.7mil had been allocated so far for the schools to enhance their quality of education.

“Based on the success of the 66 HPS before this, the Government has agreed to continue the project from 2013 to 2015 with the target of 10 HPS a year,” he said in his speech yesterday.

The text of his speech was read out by Education Ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Dr Rosli Mohamed.

Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister, said HPS should show that Malaysia’s education system could improve to be on par with international standards.

“The HPS were also set up to ensure that every child has a chance to build a successful future regardless of socioeconomic background, who their parents are and where they are studying,” he said.

Dr Rosli later handed out certificates and mock cheques of RM700,000 each to principals and school heads.

The 25 new HPS comprised 13 primary and 12 secondary schools.

The primary schools are SK Tengku Ampuan Intan, Terengganu; SK Zainab 1, Kelantan; SK Bertam Indah, Penang; SK Sultanah Asma, Kedah; SK Convent Infant Jesus 2, Malacca; SK Bandar Penawar 2, Johor; SK Seri Gaya, Sabah; SK (P) Methodist 2, Malacca; SK Bandar Maharani, Johor; SRK Seri Indera, Perlis; SJK(C) Ave Maria Convent, Perak; SJK(C) Yok Bin, Malacca; and SJK(C) Union, Penang.

The secondary schools are SM Sains Sultan Mahmud, Terengganu; SM Sains Kepala Batas, Penang; SM Sains Pokok Sena, Kedah; SM Sains Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah, Pahang; SM Sains Hulu Selangor, Selangor; SM Sains Labuan, Labuan; Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi (SBPI) Batu Rakit, Terengganu; SBPI Selandar, Malacca; SBPI Kuantan; SM Imtiaz Kuala Terengganu; SMK Sultan Ismail, Johor; and SMK Infant Jesus Convent, Johor.

Each school will receive an allocation of RM1.5mil over three years RM700,000 in the first year, followed by RM500,000 and RM300,000 in the subsequent years.

Schools were selected based on academic achievements, extra-curricular activities and niche areas.

by Priya Kulasagaran.

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Determination And Hardwork, Recipe For Students’ Success

Friday, December 28th, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR:  — A student’s success does not depend on teachers alone, but hardwork and determination to succeed.

The principal of Sekolah Menengah Sains Selangor (SMSS), Nor Paizin Ibrahim, said students had to work hard and to pay attention to their teachers to be able to grasp the lessons taught in class.

“This is the recipe for students to succeed because the teachers are not with them all the time,” he said after the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) Excellent Award presentation here Thursday.

He said SMSS organised various programmes, including extra classes and motivational courses, for students to excel in their studies and examinations, as well as enable the school to maintain its performance.

“I notice that parents support programmes organised by the school by contributing funds,’ he added.


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