Archive for July, 2014

Cooperation between UN, regional organisations necessary to resolve conflicts, says M’sia

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia firmly believes that cooperation between the United Nations and regional organisations is necessary and should be ongoing in efforts towards resolving conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Datuk Hussein Haniff said such partnerships offered unique comparative advantages in commanding the legitimacy and affinity within their respective regions.

He said regional organisations could also be sources of useful information, which could contribute towards enhancing the overall effectiveness of the UN’s efforts in the management of conflicts and in addressing the root causes of conflicts.

“Some regional organisations may even have greater flexibility in the allocation of resources,” he said at the open debate on ‘Peacekeeping Operations: The United Nations and Regional Partnerships and Its Evolution’ at the United Nations Security Council in New York yesterday. The text of his speech was made available to Bernama here today.

Hussein said that coupled with geographical proximity, regional organisations would be able to deploy assets, including troops, more rapidly than the UN – which was often crucial in saving more lives.

He also cited various international organisations, among others the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the European Union (EU), Nato and Asean, for playing active roles in peaceful settlement of disputes at the regional level.

He stressed that with the increasingly complex and multi-dimensional nature of today’s peacekeeping operations, it was vital for the development of policies at the inter-governmental level to be undertaken by consensus.

Asking peacekeepers to be constantly aware of the cultural sensitivities and the local peculiarities of the areas where they served, Hussein said these could be achieved through joint training workshops and awareness programmes.


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Mass murder of innocents

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

No matter how long it takes or how difficult the process turns out to be, those responsible for the deaths of 298 people on board MH17 must be identified and brought to justice.

THIS year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri must surely be one of the saddest experienced in the country so far.

The usual festive cheer has been subdued by the horrific shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17.

The Federal Government and state governments have rightly cancelled official Hari Raya open houses as a mark of respect and mourning for the victims of MH17.

Out of the 298 people killed, 43 were Malaysians, including the plane’s 15 crew members.

There were passengers from 17 countries on board with the Dutch making up the majority with 193, while Australia lost 28 of its citizens.

Unbelievably, the aviation tragedy struck even as we were yet to come to terms with the unresolved mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370’s disappearance four months earlier.

And almost two weeks after the plane was shot down, the remains of some of those killed so horrendously still lie scattered and unable to be retrieved as the fighting between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists rages on.

The actual investigations are still a long way off. Dutch and Australian police teams are unable to gain access to the crash site, described by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe as “too dangerous” for unarmed forensic experts.

As the authorities go through the tedious process of identifying the victims from their DNA, the ticking clock continues to shrink the chances of retrieving all the remains at the site.

But no matter how much time it takes, the world must know the perpetrators behind this heinous crime and they must be punished accordingly.

The UN Security Council took two days to adopt a resolution “to establish a full, thorough and independent international investigation in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines”.

But within hours after the fragments of MH17 and bodies rained down into the wheat fields of the embattled region, the one-sided blame game began. The Western media rushed to pin the attack on the pro-Russian separatists and on Moscow.

Instead of displaying professional scepticism and asking the obvious questions – such as who stands to benefit most from the tragedy – their reports were mostly about echoing the United States and European stance of pointed fingers at the rebels and Russia.

by M. Veera Pandiyan.

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Phobia for air travel soars after MH370 and MH17 disasters

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

PETALING JAYA: Flight phobia is on the rise in the country following a spate of air disasters.

Malaysian Mental Health Asso­ciation president Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said he had treated more patients who confessed to a fear for flying following the MH370 and MH17 tragedies. He declined to reveal the numbers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, air travel suffered badly worldwide after the Sept 11 attacks with US Transportation Department records showing that the number of air passengers from October to December that year fell by 20%, 17% and 12%, respectively.

Last Thursday, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun offered counselling services to MAS caregivers and staff, saying that many of them were traumatised by the two tragedies.

Dr Andrew, who has a special interest in aviation psychiatry, said in an interview that his patients included cabin crew.

“Many could be suffering in silence,” he pointed out. “They are afraid to admit that they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, fearing that they might be phased out if their work requires them to travel.”

Post-traumatic stress disorder, he said, was easily treatable with short-term medication and cognitive behavioural therapy, which had been proven to be effective.

“It is a difficult situation for people who need to travel to admit that they are having sleeping disorders and nightmares, being hypervigilant and having palpitation,” he said.

by Christine Cheah.

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Examining Knowledge Beliefs to Motivate Student Learning.

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

“I just cram for the exam and then forget everything.”

“If I can just get this last paper done I am in the clear.”

Comments like these make us cringe, but we all know the external factors that motivate students: grades, grades, grades. I spend a great amount of time providing students with concrete, detailed feedback on papers only to hear someone say, “Oh, I didn’t look at the feedback, just the grade.” From a faculty perspective, the grade is the least important. The joy of student engagement and learning drives our work. We ended up in higher education for a reason—most of us see great value in the learning process.

So how can we help students understand that there is more to college and learning than getting good grades and fulfilling requirements? Is there a way to reach the student and help her understand how learning can be supported and viewed as important? Is it essential that the student become internally motivated? The research on epistemological beliefs and development lends some insight to these questions (Hofer & Pintrich, 2002). Epistemology explores the beliefs we hold about knowledge, what knowledge is, how knowledge is constructed, and what constitutes knowledge. Beliefs about the sources of knowledge will influence our decision-making processes, guide critical thinking practices, and facilitate self-regulated learning (Bakx, VanDer Sanden, Sijtsma, Croon, & Vermetten, 2006).

Ignoring the epistemological belief systems of students can lead us to ineffective teaching strategies and learning outcomes (Marra & Palmer, 2008). We end up spinning our wheels and wondering why the student is not responding to our pleas for improvement. If the student does not believe there is significance or importance to developing certain forms of knowledge then he keeps the knowledge separate; establishing a dualistic knowledge reference (Kuhn & Weinstock, 2002). If the student believes the knowledge is relevant and important then the student is more likely to internalize her learning and work towards building more knowledge, rather than just focusing on the grade (Kuhn & Weinstock, 2002). I have seen students make this shift in classes to the point where they are just as interested in the feedback and how to improve as the grade. These students begin to demonstrate a willingness to examine how they construct knowledge and what this means to their future.

by Jennifer Anderson-Meger


School to Work Transition

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

What is school to work transition and why focus on it?

School-to-work transition generally refers to the critical socio-economic life changing period between approximately 15 to 24 years of age – a period when young individuals develop and build skills, based on their initial education and training that helps them become productive members of the society. Some of the most immediate economic considerations of this period in a young person’s life include issues related to education and skills development, unemployment and inactivity, job search, labor market entry and segmentation, occupational matches, stable employment and adequate income. Analyzing the transition from school to work is quite intricate because many young people begin employment while in school, migrate out of their communities, perform casual or unpaid work, or are easily discouraged from job searching. In addition there are multiple pathways for acquiring skills and furthering education including different institutional set ups, such as age of compulsory education, tracking into general and technical streams and formal and informal mechanisms of skills development.

The World Development Report 2007: Development and the Next Generation (WDR 2007) presents a comprehensive approach of life transitions into the challenges of adulthood, it focuses on the five major transition faced by youth including, learning for life, transitioning to work, healthy adolescence, forming families, and exercising citizenship. The report outlines the need to broaden opportunities available to young individuals, develop their capabilities and need to offer second chances to those who fail to make the right choices the first instance. The WDR recommends creating country specific comprehensive youth policies which are integrated into national policies; giving youth a voice and decision-making power; and, rigorously evaluating what policies and programs work for youth in particular country contexts.

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The truth about caffeine and pregnancy

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Should a baby bump stand in your way of enjoying a daily cup of coffee?

Pregnancy is a mixture of joy, anticipation, and a long list of do’s and don’ts for many women. This list often involves food, beverages and medications that are deemed harmful to the unborn child – some proven, others not. While many doctors would advise pregnant women to avoid alcohol due to evidence that heavy drinking can cause birth defects, their views on other drinks such as coffee are less consistent.

It was once thought that pregnant women should avoid drinks with high caffeine content such as coffee, soda and energy drinks because it was shown in some studies that this may increase the risk of miscarriage. However, this changed in 2010 when the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a position statement that says moderate caffeine consumption (less than 200mg a day) does not appear to be a major contributing factor in miscarriage or preterm birth.

“The relationship of caffeine and growth restriction remains undetermined,” says the ACOG, who reaffirmed their statement last year.

Caffeine Facts

One of the reasons why caffeine raises concerns is its ability to cross the placenta and reach the baby. “Although you may be able to handle the amounts of caffeine you feed your body, your baby cannot,” says the American Pregnancy Association in their web page on caffeine intake during pregnancy. “Your baby’s metabolism is still maturing and cannot fully metabolise the caffeine,” the association says.

Although caffeine is most commonly associated with coffee, there are other drinks and foods that contain caffeine, including sodas, energy drinks, tea, chocolate, and other foods that contain these ingredients. The caffeine content may differ – an 8-ounce (237ml) cup of instant coffee contains up to 100mg of caffeine, while the same amount of brewed or filtered coffee can contain up to 140mg and 200mg of caffeine (see table).

Teas and sodas generally have less caffeine content, but these can add up. Some of these beverages also have decaffeinated options, but many of these options contain at least 1% to 2% of their original caffeine content.

Safety In Moderation

Besides its enticing aroma and taste, the benefits to drinking coffee range from the boost of energy it gives to the various nutrients it contains. When taken in moderation, caffeine can improve performance in tasks that involve working memory and reaction time. It could also facilitate learning in classes, where information is presented in a passive manner.

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Gender Differences in Boys’ and Girls’ Emotions

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Finding a Safe Place When Stressed

Boys and girls often process emotions differently. When my daughter was young and in need of support she had a special technique.  She would come to me and say “Daddy, I need special time,” and I knew just what that meant.  We needed to face two chairs towards each other and she would talk about what was bothering her.  She might complain that her friend had said she talked too much and I would respond with a supportive “Ah, Julia.”  She might then tell me that another friend had told her that she didn’t want to play with her ever again and I would again offer support through a simple, “Ah, Julia.”  After about 5-7 cycles of “Ah, Julia,” she was ready to go!  Her cup was full and, she would say “Thanks, Dad” and off she would go outside to play.
What was Julia doing?  She was creating a “safe place” for herself.  One important aspect in healing is that when people are in trouble psychologically they will first look for a safe place.  Julia went a step farther.  Once she had the safe place she used it to tell her story.  Combining these two elements is the outline of the common path that most of us use in healing ourselves. Finding safety and then telling our personal story. Julia arranged for me to steward that safe place and then talked about what was bothering her.  Through this story-telling process done in a safe place she began to find healing.  One other common example of this process is attending a support group which acts as a safe place for people to tell their story and through the repeated telling balance is found.
My son, however, would not come to me and say, “Daddy, I need special time.” Absolutely not.  Why not? The reason is that sitting face to face is simply not safe for him.  Where do men and boys like my son feel safe?  More often, it is not when they are face to face, but rather when they are shoulder to shoulder taking action.  Think of the places where men feel close to other men.  It is most often when they are taking action and working on a common goal.  The more dangerous the goal, the closer the men feel to each other.  Wartime, police departments, fire departments, and sports teams at a championship are all examples of this.  Through working together, shoulder to shoulder, the men feel close to other men. Here lasting friendships are forged within that safety.
Would Luke ask for special time?  No.  He would come to me and say, “I wanna wrestle!”  Keep in mind that he was in first or second grade, and I am 6′2″ and far from tiny.  I would say, “Okay, but you better be ready for me!”  Then the wrestling would commence.  At first he would have me down, then I would have him down. Back and forth it would go.  At some point during the battle, Luke would stick his little head up and say, “Jimmy got beat up at school today,” and I would ask if it was bad and he would say “Oh yeah, there was blood coming from his nose.”  Then the interlude abruptly ceased, and he growled loudly and attacked me with all his might.  A minute or two later, Luke might stick his head up again and say, “I miss Granddaddy.”  He was referring to my father who had died just a few months before.  My heart cracked open, and I responded that I missed him too.  In a flash, he would growl and attack again and was on top of me with all his might.

What Boys are Reading

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Boys Fall Behind in Reading Skills

A gap between boys and girls in overall academic achievement and reading skills grows more obvious every year. According to the latest assessment of adult literacy in this country, National Assessment of Adult Literacy, released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 2005, the reading skills of American adults have declined dramatically from 1992 to 2003. Specifically, the report found the following:
  • The higher the educational level, the bigger the decline in their ability to read ordinary prose, one of the three kinds of literacy assessed by NCES.
  • Even more astonishing, the decline in literacy skills among college graduates and those with graduate study or degrees rated “proficient” was confined to males.
  • The percentage of highly educated males rated “proficient” in all three kinds of literacy assessed (prose reading, document reading, and quantitative reasoning, as defined by NCES) declined.
  • The percentage of highly educated females rated “proficient” in the first two kinds of literacy remained the same, and in the third kind, increased somewhat.
The NCES study doesn’t show the differences in scores between men and women in age ranges, but results on the main tests of grade 12 reading achievement by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) indicate that a decline is occurring among both young males and females, but that the decline in reading skills is far more a young male than a young female phenomenon.
  • Results on the 2005 grade 12 test of reading achievement, released in February 2007, showed over one grade level difference between girls and boys.
  • Both male and female students’ scores were lower in 2005 in comparison to 1992, when these main tests began, with female students now outscoring male students by 13 points.

What Boys and Girls are Reading

A large debate is currently waging over the reading gap and role of the English curriculum in students’ scores. In May 2008, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) reported that there is no “boys’ crisis” in education and that “long-standing inequalities are not specific to boys.” . However, the AAUW report did not include the results of the 2005 National Assessment of Adult Literacy and the main tests of reading in grade 12 given by NAEP.   On the other side of the debate, many educators in the schools acknowledge the gap (the gender of their high school valedictorians, for example, is obvious), but prefer to see its causes as external to the curriculum and beyond their control. However, in May 2008, Renaissance Learning published a report that revealed the book-reading habits of over three million students in grades 1-12. The data  suggest that the English curriculum has influenced the decline in scores for both boys and girls in grade 12, as well as the growing gap between them.
By Sandra Stotsky.

10 Reading Readiness Skills for Kindergarten Kids

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

As the parent of a soon-to-be kindergartener, you might be a bit astounded by the reading goals your school has set for your child. Today’s parents are often shocked when they come to school for orientation and see what’s on the docket when it comes to reading. What happened to a full day of crayons? What happened to unlimited time in the sand box?

Without a doubt, the skills taught in kindergarten today look more like the skills taught in first grade a decade or two ago, especially when it comes to reading.  But fret not, because these high reading expectations for young students are accompanied by very strategic teaching methods, and a meticulous progression of skills that build upon one another. Your child can meet the reading goals set by his teacher, especially if he’s on track when he first enters kindergarten. So, is he?

While every teacher and school has their own set of “prerequisites,” there’s a set of general reading expectations that most teachers share, when it comes to kids entering kindergarten. Before entering kindergarten, a student well prepared for reading should be able to:

  1. Read her name
  2. Recite the alphabet
  3. Recognize some or all of the letters in the alphabet
  4. Correspond some or all letters with their correct sound
  5. Make rhymes
  6. Hold a book right side up with the spine on the left, front cover showing
  7. Recognize that the progression of text is left to right, top to bottom
  8. Echo simple text that is read to them
  9. Recognize that text holds meaning
  10. Re-tell a favorite story

If your child is not quite steady in all of these areas, don’t panic! Every child enters kindergarten at a different level and teachers expect a huge variation in the skills each student brings. They’re trained to optimize success for each individual, no matter what. According to Lesley M. Morrow, Ph.D. and Distinguished Professor of Literacy at Rutgers University in New Jersey, one of the main reasons kindergarten reading is taught in small groups, is so teachers can easily cater to different levels of reading readiness. More advanced readers can be taught in a way that limits boredom, and more beginning readers at a pace that minimizes frustration.

by Lawren Allphin.

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Netizens upset by drastic toll hike

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

PETALING JAYA: Netizens are unhappy with Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM)’s announcement of up to 400 per cent toll hike for those using the Johor Causeway, saying that the move would burden Malaysians working in Singapore and also affect businesses in Johor.

LLM announced that the toll hike is to be imposed on all vehicles passing through the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex, beginning Aug 1.

Facebook user Pejo Ung said that the move was akin to cutting off one’s nose to spite his face.

If Singaporeans stop coming, Johor’s economy will be affected,” he wrote.

Another user, David Thena said, “I’m wondering are we digging our own grave…those who commute to work in Singapore suffer most.”

Keeran Kaur and Michael Tan also shared the same sentiments, saying that the move would affect businesses in Johor.

Johor Baru businesses will suffer the most. Malaysia killing itself,” Kaur wrote.

Sri Krishna called the toll hike ‘rubbish’, lamenting the need to impose such high rate on Malaysian cars, and not just to those with Singaporean number plates.

While most were not unhappy with the increase, there were others who opined that the hike would not stop Singaporeans from coming to Malaysia.

Martin Jung said that we (Malaysia) provide facilities at a much cheaper rate compared to the neighbouring country.

“Singaporeans will continue to come. With two point five times exchange rate, things are still cheaper.

Those Malaysians driving Singapore cars, remember you earn Sing dollars, but why stay in JB, accommodation, parking, rokok (cigarettes), food, groceries etc must be cheaper than Singapore right?” Jung said.

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