31 December, 2007

Wish you a very very happy 2008 !

My fellow friend from Batu Pahat, thank you for making 2008 visit Batu Pahat year.

Apparently this gentleman, now has a video of him having sex with another woman other than his wife.

He is a Taiko from MCA, I was told.

And the news here,here and here!

Welcome to Batu Pahat. If you are lucky, you may get one copy of the video, free!!

But are you in the pink of health?

Happy 2008! Come visit Batu Pahat !


30 December, 2007

A Bhutto Successor?

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto opens barely-healed wounds and leaves a nuclear power at the risk of civil war.

The most pressing priority for nuclear-armed Pakistan -- and the world -- now that the Bhutto dynasty has been terminated is to avoid having this difficult country descend into civil war.

Pakistan is barely a unitary state, riven by centuries-old ethnic and clan rivalries constantly refreshed by revenge. The Bhutto family's stronghold was the massive southern Sindh province, centered on the country's biggest and richest city, Karachi. Benazir Bhutto easily carried the south, but her Pakistan People's Party has always struggled for ground in the politically dominant northern Punjab, hence her fateful decision to campaign yesterday for next month's election in Rawalpindi.

That she was killed doing so, in the Punjab, will incense the resentful south. Punjabis have traditionally dominated government in Pakistan, civilian and military, and often in coalition with the Pashtuns of the fractious NorthWest Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan. For Sindh, the Bhuttos were always a rallying point. But with their "Daughter of the East" champion dead and the dynasty defeated, the isolated Sindhis and Bhutto-sympathizers could be out for revenge.

Any conflict will be fanned by Islamist extremists, including Al Qaeda, which will be blamed by many for today's atrocity -- although it could easily have been anyone; the government, the military, and even rivals within Bhutto's own party have had fingers pointed at them. A religious war is the West's worst nightmare and the situation will be enough to justify President-General Pervez Musharraf again declaring martial law, with Western acquiescence.

There is no logical successor to Bhutto in the PPP, a party founded by her father before he was hanged by the Pakistani military in 1979 for corruption. Indeed, the Bhutto dynasty that has been such a feature -- and often a poisonous one -- of Pakistani politics for much of the country's 60-year history has been extinguished with Benazir's death. Her two elder politician brothers both died violently and their 20-something children hated their aunt and exhibit no particular fondness for her PPP machinery or politics generally.

A senior official of Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) told TIME late Saturday that the slain former prime minister's 19-year-old son, Bilawal, will likely be named as her political heir and the new party leader on Sunday. PPP members are due to meet to discuss the party's future and to give Bilawal, a student at Oxford, a chance to read his mother's last will and testament.

A Pakistani television news channel also carried reports that Bilawal will be made the new leader, which the channel said accorded with Benazir Bhutto's wishes. If confirmed, the teenager will become the third leader of the 40-year-old center-left party, one of Pakistan's most powerful. Bilawal will follow his grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who founded the PPP in 1967, led Pakistan as Prime Minister for four years in the mid 1970s and was hanged in 1979 by a military government, and Benazir, who took over from her father and was killed in a shooting and suicide bomb attack two days ago.

The quick anointment of a Bhutto to head the PPP will help rally party members devastated by the assassination of their tough but beloved leader. The party hopes to ride a wave of sympathy in parliamentary elections that are set for Jan. 8 but may yet be postponed in the face of widespread violence around the country. Rival opposition parties have called for a boycott of the polls but PPP officials say their party intends to participate.

Many people had tipped Benazir's husband Asif Ali Zardari for the top spot, and in the unpredictable world of Pakistani politics that could still happen. An experienced politician, Zardari served as Environment Minister in his wife's second administration. But he is also a controversial figure in Pakistan, and has spent a total of 11 years in prison on various charges including blackmail and corruption, for which he earned the nickname "Mr. 10%." Supporters dismiss these charges, most of which have been thrown out of Pakistani courts (a few are still pending), as politically related mischief. "He's a strong man," says PPP Senator Awan. "All of us are controversial. Wasn't Benazir Bhutto? Wasn't Zulfikar Ali Bhutto? All those who don't accept the military role in politics are controversial. The charges are 100% unfounded and fake."

The young Bhutto, Benazir's only son, knows the dangers of the job he might be about to take on. Last year Benazir told a reporter that she hoped her three children would choose a different career. "My children have told me they are very worried about my safety," she said. "I understand those fears. But they are Bhuttos and we have to face the future with courage, whatever it brings."


29 December, 2007

Correct, correct, correct

Top 10 news of 2007
Dec 29, 07 12:09pm

This was the year that tens of thousands of Malaysians broke free of mental chains and collectively thumbed their noses at those in control. From courtly lawyers to cheesed-off car-tinters, there was a unity of purpose across their respective causes, as they claimed the right to speak and to be heard - and damn the consequences!No, it had nothing to do with a government that “gave” them freedom to do so. It had everything to do with a citizenry that would not cave in to the commands of an overbearing government.Malaysiakini celebrates a year of definitive mindset change - so, it is apt that C-words rule our choice of Top 10 news issues of the year. Think of that clip, corruption, clean-ups, conversions, courage, crackdowns, crime, conflict, commission, culling, chatterboxes and campaigns... caught on yet?

Correct, correct, correct
1. THE ISSUE: Correct, correct, correct, ya, ya, ya! Our top story of the year couldn’t be any other than the explosive Lingam tape, revealed in part on Sept 19 by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.The full 14-minute clip, said to be recorded in 2002, shows senior lawyer VK Lingam talking on the phone about appointing ‘friendly’ judges to the Bench. He claimed to be in conversation with then Chief Judge of Malaya - the judiciary’s No 3 - Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim Omar, who later became the chief justice.The claims ignited an uproar, propelling some 2,000 lawyers into taking an unprecedented 3.5km ‘Walk for Justice’ in search of investigation of judicial corruption.Despite clear public anger and concern, the government was initially reluctant to set up a royal commission of inquiry and offered only a three-member panel to probe the authenticity of the eight-minute segment of the clip.When there appeared to be no longer any question about its authenticity, the government agreed to set up a full-blown commission, although criticism has continued over its choice of members and the still-limited terms of reference.Ahmad Fairuz did not get his wish for an extension of service and retired on Oct 31 under a cloud of doubt, despite earlier denying involvement via de facto law minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz.Anwar released the full clip on Dec 14. Prior to that, Lingam’s estranged brother had exposed more juicy details about the lawyer’s alleged relationship with judges - but the lawyer himself has taken a vow of silence until such time as the commission summons him to testify.WHAT’S NEXT: Possibly, some clarification of the murkiness surrounding top appointments in the judiciary. Sanctions, you say? Don’t hold your breath waiting. After all, the Royal Police Commission was unable to push through its own police watchdog proposal.

2.Hindraf emerges from the shadows
THE ISSUE: The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) was relatively unknown until it provided Indian Malaysians the opportunity to vent feelings pent up over 150 years. The grouping is led by lawyers and brothers P Uthayakumar and Waythamoorthy, who have taken up issues that have plagued the grassroots of a downtrodden community.From alleged police brutality and deaths in custody, they duo have zeroed in on marginalisation and discrimination of Indians. In defence of the right to religion, they have also been calling attention to the demolition of Hindu temples nationwide.The first sign of Hindraf’s growing base of support was when it gathered some 2,000 Indians at Putrajaya to hand over a memorandum detailing the community’s problems. It did not even get the courtesy of a response.Waythamoorthy then gave the campaign an instantly international image by suing the British government for RM14 trillion - on grounds that colonialists had brought Indians to Malaya as indentured labourers and later failed to factor in their interests when the Federal Constitution was being formulated. The brothers, along with other Indian lawyers, began a nationwide roadshow to explain the suit and publicise Hindraf’s intention to petition the British Queen to support the suit by appointing a Queen’s Counsel to represent Indian Malaysians.On Oct 29, about a week before Deepavali, a century-old temple in Kampung Rimba Jaya in Padang Jawa, Selangor, was destroyed as part of a wider operation by the Shah Alam Municipal Council to clear a squatter settlement which included a surau. This proved to be the proverbial straw - it even produced a rare sighting of MIC president S Samy Vellu, as Hindraf lawyers pitched into the chaos that ensued. It was a short hop from that incident to the Nov 25 mass rally at Kuala Lumpur, which saw some 30,000 Indians backing a bid by Hindraf leaders to submit a petition to the British High Commission. The police response was a crackdown on protesters, followed by charges of attempted murder (since dropped), illegal assembly and causing mischief. Five Hindraf leaders have been detained for two years under the Internal Security Act. The community’s cause has resonated with individuals, civil society groups and political parties, even if some have distanced themselves from certain Hindraf claims. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been pressured into meeting with Indian-based NGOs to hear the community’s long list of grouses. WHAT’S NEXT: ‘Big Ears’ will have his work cut out for him to offer real forms of redress - and pronto - now that he realises that silence will no longer be met with silence.

3. Yearning for a ‘Bersih’ electoral system
THE ISSUE: All that the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) wants is an election system that is free of taint and above suspicion. In aid of this, the grouping - comprising 67 NGOs and five opposition parties - has been active in canvassing voter support, while also lobbying the Election Commission (EC) to implement its ideas.Earlier this year, it held low-key meetings with the EC and roadshows to educate the public about what should constitute clean and fair elections in Malaysia. These efforts bore fruit - the EC agreed to use indelible ink to curb multiple voting and even to introduce transparent voting boxes in the next general election. Still, this apparently fell short of Bersih’s demands.When the coalition took its case to supporters in Kuala Terengganu in September, its planned ceramah attracted action. The cops moved in, sealed off the venue, and used force to deal with resistance - ‘live’ bullets injured two people.Not to be intimidated, Bersih reacted with plans for a massive rally in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 10. Despite a police cordon and use of water cannon and tear gas, some 40,000 protesters managed to march to Istana Negara where a petition was handed to the King’s representative.This was followed with another memorandum to the prime minister - via opposition MPs, amidst pandemonium outside Parliament on Dec 11 - and at a more sedate affair at his Putrajaya office on Dec 18. But it failed to end the tenure of EC head Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman because of his alleged failure to correct failings in the electoral system. Abdul Rashid has been given another year as EC chief.
WHAT’S NEXT: Bersih has threatened to step up pressure for electoral reform, although it is being cagey about the methods. All eyes will be on possible abuses, vote buying and fraud in the upcoming general election, which some expect will be held as early as March.

Subordinate brings down ACA head
4. THE ISSUE: In his last self-proclaimed act of ‘national duty’ before he retired last year, Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) senior officer Ramli Manan did something that would eventually take down his boss in spectacular fashion. The former ACA Sabah chief levelled several allegations against then director-general Zulkipli Mat Noot ranging from corruption to a sexual assault. He sent his report to the police chief, the premier, attorney-general, auditor-general and director-general of the civil service, but the outcome was a deafening silence.What he was unable to achieve behind the scenes had to be accomplished in public, after the corruption watchdog Gerak revealed the contents of his report in February this year.In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini, Ramli later said that, for six years prior to retirement, he had been consigned to ‘cold storage’ because he had persisted in investigating a corruption allegation against former Land and Cooperative Development Minister Kasitah Gaddam in 2000.Ramli also said he was further victimised when his pension and salary were held back, and since filed a legal suit over this.Under the circumstances, it would have taken a particularly thick-skinned politician to bear the risk of being associated with Zulkipli, so the prime minister and his ever-willing cabinet went into damage-control mode.Zulkipli’s service, which had been extended twice since retirement in 2005, was unceremoniously terminated on March 31. However, four months later, attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail cleared him of all corruption allegations.WHAT’S NEXT: Expect to hear the sound of the government laundromat in high-spin cycle to handle more dirty linen, should more whistleblowers come forth.

We’re no longer safe
5. THE ISSUE: Next to the state of the economy and retail therapy, Malaysians are apparently most concerned about personal safety.And where they have feared to tread in criticising the state of politics, they have not held back in demanding responsibility and accountability of the police force in stopping criminals in their tracks.The number of reported crimes went up over the first half of the year to 87,582, or an increase of 7,006 cases compared to the same period last year. The incidents included 1,507 reports of rape, as well as a spate of highway robberies and snatch thefts resulting in injuries and fatalities.In June, some 200 people gathered in front of the Johor Mentri Besar’s house to protest the rising incidence of crime in the state. Although this turned ugly when the police moved in, it did result in the cabinet ordering additional police personnel to be deployed and approval for 11 new police stations in the southern-most state.The same month, Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum also assured the public that the police are viewing the crime situation seriously and that the government was stepping up responses. As another step, the Parliamentary Caucus on the Human Rights organised public hearings in July to assist the police in curbing crime. Held in three states - Selangor, Johor and Penang - these allowed the public to raise problems and voice dissatisfaction, although the media were barred from covering the sessions.Think-tank Merdeka Centre followed up on public perceptions, releasing findings in August that confirmed what everyone else already knew.WHAT'S NEXT: Hopefully real action to prevent rapists, kidnappers, robbers, muggers and their ilk from running wild, instead of locking up protesters for claiming their constitutional rights.

Conversion confusion
6. THE ISSUE: Conflicts based in religion continued to grab the headlines, including several cases carried over from last year. Whether or not civil courts have jurisdiction over syariah matters remained the crux of the debate. The much-anticipated Lina Joy decision saw the Federal Court decide that the issue of conversion lies with the Syariah Court, splitting the nation over the concept of freedom of religion.Another shocker was when M Revathi, who was born a Muslim but brought up as a Hindu - and who married an Indian Malaysian - defiantly revealing the coercion she went through during at an Islamic rehabilitation centre.The year ended with the Federal Court's landmark ruling that R Subashini, whose husband converted himself and one of their two sons to Islam, can seek divorce in the civil courts. But the controversial 2-1 decision also ruled that the husband can convert the son without informing the mother. A global interfaith conference was cancelled at the last minute - with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi pulling out as keynote speaker - sparking criticism as to whether the government is as tolerant as it claims to be. And when Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said Malaysia has never been a secular state, it further exasperated those still lay hope on the spirit of the Federal Constitution.WHAT’S NEXT: Religion will remain at the centre of contention so long as it is politicised. The battle over religion will continue in the new year as two lawsuits have been filed over the right of Christians to use ‘Allah’ in referring to God in Bahasa Malaysia.

Drama in Year of the Pig
7. THE ISSUE: The Year of the Golden Pig saw an unprecedented stand-off between pig farmers and a combined force of law enforcers in Malacca.The Malacca government had decided to close pig farms for reasons of environmental hygiene, just as other states had done over the last few years. The similarity ended there.On Sept 4, thousands of enforcement officers from the relevant agencies made an attempt to cull pigs in Bukit Beruang, Paya Mengkuang, Kampung Man Lok and adjacent areas. However, they were thwarted by angry farmers who set up barricades on all approaches to their farms. They were incensed over the high-handed and ‘secretive’ assault by the state government, especially since the notice period for eviction had yet to expire.Farmers, villagers and family members - including the young and the elderly - took up position in front of the barricades, holding national flags and banners with messages celebrating the 50th anniversary of Malaysia’s independence.Police cordoned off all major roads, isolating the villages. Hundreds of police and anti-riot personnel were armed with batons, canes, teargas-canister launchers and automatic rifles. Excavators were brought in to dig holes to bury the culled pigs, while police trucks - including some with water cannon - were stationed in the vicinity. Officers stood by, clad in white plastic-suits, waiting for the order to move in and cull the animals. After 10 tense hours, state MCA officials struck a deal with the authorities and won a reprieve for the farmers, who were given up to Sept 21 to cull part of the livestock. However, they were unable to do so due to logistical problems. Further discussions on Oct 2 led to a postponement of the deadline to March 3 next year, by which time the state intends to cap the number of pigs at 48,000. All 24 farms outside Paya Mengkuang must close by December.
WHAT’S NEXT: Expect capitulation from the farmers, who have no other choice. This is one occasion where they will have to live to fight another day - and work on standards of hygiene, to keep the authorities well and truly off their back. But the high-handed manner in which the authorities sought to close the farms will be remembered when Chinese Malaysians go to the polls.

Port Klang project in choppy waters
8. THE ISSUE: When the flag of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) development project was raised, eyebrows followed suit. The look of surprise soon turned into a frown for those attempting to unravel the tangle of political and corporate deals that followed.It began with Pulau Lumut Development Cooperative Bhd (PLDCB), set up in 1989 and helmed by Selangor Speaker Onn Ismail, receiving 405ha of land on Pulau Indah from the state government.It sold half of the land to Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd at RM30 million, following up with the balance at RM65 million - RM95 million in all. In 2002, Kuala Dimensi entered into an agreement to re-sell the whole land-bank to the Port Klang Authority (PKA) at an astounding RM1.81 billion.Kuala Dimensi is linked to property developer and investment firm Wijaya Baru Global Bhd (WBGB), of which Onn's son-in-law Faizal Abdullah is deputy chief executive officer. Amidst complaints of conflict of interest, Kuala Dimensi also signed an agreement with PKA to develop the land into PKFZ at the initial cost of RM500 million. This has since ballooned in excess of RM4.6 billion. Soon allegations that PKFZ was plagued by red tape, interference by politicians and others with vested interests, inaccuracies in the minutes of meetings and attempted tax evasion began to surface. These problems were cited as the cause of a split between PKFZ and the Dubai-based Jebel Ali Free Zone, which had been appointed to manage and promote PKFZ. Following the spate of negative reports - and the government's decision to bail out the project - parliamentary Public Accounts Committee chairperson Shahrir Abdul Samad ordered a probe. However, the PKA’s explanations left Shahrir a sunny bunny once more, seemingly satisfied that all’s well with the project.WHAT'S NEXT: With the attorney-general yet to appear before the PAC and Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy having dodged all questions, on-going investigations could run into a convenient dead-end. Already, the mudah lupa syndrome is kicking in.

Sticks and stones...
9. THE ISSUE: Bloggers were subjected to much name-calling - among these, liars, unemployed women, goblok and monkeys. To add politically-motivated injury to insult, some have had to deal with lawsuits and police action.In January, a defamation lawsuit was slapped on Jeff Ooi and Ahirudin Attan (or Rocky) by the New Straits Times Press Bhd and four others. Nathaniel Tan was arrested in July and remanded for four days under the Official Secrets Act over an anonymous comment left in his blog. Malaysia Today webmaster Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Ooi were questioned separately by the police over alleged seditious comments - Raja Petra in July for postings on his blog, and Ooi in November for his comments on Al Jazeera during the Bersih rally for electoral reform.Ooi also left Barisan Nasional component Gerakan to join DAP in July.With free speech already deemed inappropriate - even dangerous - singing was added to the list in August. Taiwan-based Malaysian student Wee Meng Chee was rapped for his Negarakuku remix posted on YouTube. Politicians threatened to extradite Wee and shut down YouTube.WHAT’S NEXT: Active interest in politics and citizen journalism will spill over into election campaigns and instant dissemination of information.

Real winners of by-elections
10.THE ISSUE: In the first half of the year, three bitterly fought by-elections were held - Batu Talam in Pahang; Machap in Malacca; and Ijok in Selangor; all state seats that fell vacant on the death of the incumbents.The Batu Talam affair was distinguished only by an opposition boycott and an Independent rookie candidate who turned all of 22 during the campaign. He lost to Barisan Nasional (BN), but kudos to him for filling the vacuum.In Machap, the DAP candidate was defeated by MCA’s nominee for the second time.The Ijok by-election on April 28 was the most hard fought and closely followed campaign, being touted as a gauge of the voters’ mood before the next general election.It also marked the return of ex-deputy premier and PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim to the hustings - albeit on an opposition platform. The campaign was even said to be a ‘proxy war’ between him and Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.The intensity of the by-election was best illustrated by the presence of BN chairperson and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was roped in for the final leg of the campaign.MIC candidate K Parthiban, a teacher and political novice, beat PKR’s Khalid Ibrahim - the opposition and a polls watchdog complained of heavy-handed tactics, intimidation, electoral irregularities and ‘missing ballots’.However, the real winners were the bemused electorate who were recipients of government largesse on a large scale, as millions worth of ‘projects’ were rushed into all three constituencies and the big guns rolled into town to entertain them at ceramahs. It sure beats watching the news on RTM!WHAT’S NEXT: A no-brainer - the general election lah!

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28 December, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Last Moments Before Assassinated

27 December, 2007

Malaysia's highest court rejected a Hindu woman's plea

Quote Malaysiakini

"the Federal Court three-member panel today ruled against R Subashini on a legal technicality - that her divorce petition in the civil court was 'premature and invalid'."

Malaysia's highest court rejected a Hindu woman's plea Thursday to stop her Muslim-convert husband from changing their son's religion to Islam, in a case that raised concerns over eroding minority rights.

Subashini Rajasingam, a 29-year-old ethnic Indian Hindu, went to court after her husband, also an ethnic Indian, converted to Islam along with their 4-year-old son, without her consent.

Her bid to stop her husband from converting their 2-year-old son had already been rejected by lower courts, and the Federal Court was her last resort, said her lawyer, K. Shanmuga.

The Federal Court ruled a child can be converted with the consent of just one parent.

"Either husband or wife has the right to convert a child to Islam," said Nik Hashim Nik Abdul Rahman, the presiding judge of the three-member panel.

The ruling means Subashini could lose custody of both children. If the sons are converted, they will be under the jurisdiction of the Islamic courts — which will not give custody to a non-Muslim parent.

Subashini's plight reflects the tensions in this multiracial country where many Hindu, Christian and Buddhist minorities feel that their religions are getting second-class treatment by the Muslim majority.

Muslims are governed by Islamic courts while non-Muslims go to civil courts to settle family, marriage and other personal disputes. But non-Muslims complain that civil courts have been more than willing to cede authority to Islamic courts in cases involving conversions.

Her lawyers said she will likely file a fresh petition to the High Court to stop her husband from taking custody of their youngest son, who still lives with her. The elder son is with the husband.

A women's rights group slammed the ruling allowing Subashini's husband to convert their son.

"What is frightening is that the equal right of a parent is not upheld. It is absurd that the rights of a Muslim spouse has overtaken that of the non-Muslim," said Meera Samanther, president of the Women's Aids Organization.

By the way, Do Malaysian Muslims understand what 'Allah' means?

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25 December, 2007

Laure Manaudou-in nude pics controversy

THE world's most glamourous swimmer, Olympic and world championship gold medallist Laure Manaudou, is today subject of a cruel internet extortion and her former boyfriend, Italian swimming heartthrob Luca Marin, is accused of posting nude photos of her on the net.

(Warning : contains adult content, view at your own risk. If you are easily offended, please do not click !!)

International swimming circles are in shock at the posting of the nude photos of 21-year-old Frenchwoman Manaudou which are understood to have been taken in intimate moments during her relationship with 21-year-old Marin.

Marin today was forced to deny accusations that he posted the photos as revenge for Manaudou dumping him in one of sport's most spectacular love gone wrong splits.

The finger of accusation has been firmly pointed at Marin, a typically fiery Italian, after they are understood to have broken up at the recent European short-course championships in what can only be called the most Mediterranean of break-ups.

At the championships in Hungary, Manaudou, who took gold in the 100m backstroke and 400 metres freestyle in Debrecen, threw away a ring given to her by Marin before arguing with him in front of other swimmers and the camera in the changing rooms on Sunday.

And in the hours following the row - and when it was also revealed that the Frenchwoman is now linked romantically to champion backstroker Benjamin Stasiulis - nude photos and a video of Manaudou appeared on the web.

Hence how Marin became the scorned lover now chief suspect in what members of Europe's swimming circles say could be the ultimate revenge act on a sports star in any sport worldwide.

"I know nothing about the video and have only seen the photos. Yes, it looks like it's really her but it is ridiculous to think that it was me who put them there,'' Marin told Gazzetta dello Sport publication today.

Marin, who lost his 400m European medley title to Hungary's Laszlo Cseh last Friday, also denied accusations from French witnesses that he had verbally abused Manaudou in public.

"They are inventions. I only said that she had done a very rude thing (by throwing the ring away) and that I was happy she was no longer my girlfriend,'' he said today.

Manaudou caused a rumpus in France in May when she joined the LaPresse Nuoto club in Turin, saying she wanted a new challenge and wished to be nearer her then boyfriend Marin. They even talked of having babies together.

But the club fired her three months later, citing attitude problems.

The love affair of Manaudou and Marin captivated Melbourne during this year's world championships as photographers captured them daily frollicking together, kissing and hugging poolside.

In Manaudou's only public comments so far, she said: "I've decided not to talk about my personal life anymore, it doesn't concern journalists. I would prefer to keep silent about this point.''


Merry Christmas !!!

Q: What do elves learn in school?
A: The Elf-abet!

Q: What's the most popular wine at Christmas?
A: "I don't like sprouts"!

Q: If athletes get athletes foot, what do astronauts get?
A: Missletoe!

Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
A: Frostbite.

Q: Why was Santa's little helper depressed?
A: Because he had low elf esteem.

Q: Why does Santa have 3 gardens?
A: So he can ho-ho-ho.

Q: Where do polar bears vote?
A: The North Poll.

Q: What do you get when you cross an archer with a gift-wrapper?
A: Ribbon hood.

Q: Why do birds fly south for the winter?
A: Because it's too far to walk.

Q: What was wrong with the boy's brand new toy electric train set he received for Christmas?
A: Forty feet of track - all straight!

Q: What kind of bird can write?
A: A PENguin.

Q: How does Al Gore's household keep Christmas politically correct?
A: On Christmas morning, they give the presents TO the tree.

Q: What do you call a cat on the beach at Christmas time?
A: Sandy Claus!

Q: How do sheep in Mexico say Merry Christmas?
A: Fleece Navidad!

Q: What nationality is Santa Claus?
A: North Polish.

Q: Why does Santa's sled get such good mileage?
A: Because it has long-distance runners on each side.

Q: What do you call a bunch of grandmasters of chess bragging about their games in a hotel lobby?
A: Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer!

Q: What do you get if you deep fry Santa Claus?
A: Crisp Cringle.

Q: What did the ghosts say to Santa Claus?
A: We'll have a boo Christmas without you.

Q: What did Santa shout to his toys on Christmas Eve?
A: Okay everyone, sack time!!

Q: What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
A: Snowflakes.

Q: If Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus had a child, what would he be called?
A: A subordinate claus.

Q: Why did the elf push his bed into the fireplace?
A: He wanted to sleep like a log.

Q: Why did Santa spell Christmas N-O-E?
A: Because the angel had said, "No L!"

Q: What goes Ho, Ho, Swoosh, Ho, Ho, Swoosh?
A: Santa caught in a revolving door!

Q: Why does Santa Claus go down the chimney on Christmas Eve?
A: Because it "soots" him!

Q: What do you do if Santa gets stuck in your chimney?
A: Pour Santa flush on him.

Q: Did you hear that one of Santa's reindeer now works for Proctor and Gamble?
A: Its true . . . Comet cleans sinks!

Q: What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?
A: Claustrophobic.

Q: Why does Scrooge love Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?
A: Because every buck is dear to him.

Q: How come you never hear anything about the 10th reindeer "Olive" ?
A: Yeah, you know, "Olive the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names"

Q: Why is Christmas just like a day at the office?
A: You do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit.

Q: What was so good about the neurotic doll the girl was given for Christmas?
A: It was wound up already.

Q: What did AAB sing to his boys on Christmas Eve?
A: Hindraf jailed, hindraf jailed !!


24 December, 2007

A special Royal Channel

50 years after her first televised Christmas Day speech, the Queen is broadening her scope for the 2007 message to incorporate the world wide web. As Sacha Twining reports, royalists will now be able to watch the address on the Royal Channel on YouTube.

The Queen has launched her own channel on the video-sharing website YouTube.

The Royal Channel will feature her Christmas Day message, and has recent and historical footage of the monarch and other members of the Royal Family.

The launch marks the 50th anniversary of the Queen's first televised festive address in 1957.

The palace said it hoped the site would make the 81-year-old monarch's annual speech "more accessible to younger people and those in other countries".

Changing times

The opening page of the channel, which went live just after midnight, bears the title "The Royal Channel - The Official Channel of the British Monarchy" and features a photograph of Buckingham Palace and the Queen's Guards.

This year's festive address will appear on the site at about 1500 GMT on Christmas Day.

Back in 1957, when the Queen delivered her first television message, she acknowledged the need to adapt to changing times.

"I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct," she said from her Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

"That it is possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of the speed at which things are changing all around us."

Clips from garden parties, state visits, prime ministers, investitures and a day in the life of the Prince of Wales will all be available to watch on the channel.


Among the older clips is footage from a film by Lord Wakehurst called Long to Reign Over Us, which has never been released to the public.

The former Tory MP, who died in 1970, was a keen amateur film maker and charted many key royal events, including the death of King George VI, the Queen's accession and her coronation.

The site also has footage of Queen Alexandra's West End tour among the rose-sellers in 1917, and silent newsreel of the 1923 wedding of the Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon - the Queen's parents.

Announcing the launch of the channel, a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said the Queen "always keeps abreast with new ways of communicating with people".

"She has always been aware of reaching more people and adapting the communication to suit," she said.

"This will make the Christmas message more accessible to younger people and those in other countries."

Poor education

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, said that the Queen's reign was a "continuing rebuff and rebuttal" to those calling for a republic.

"The Queen represents one of the things that is best about Britain," he wrote in the Sunday Mirror.

But historian David Starkey, who has been promoting his new TV programme on the monarchy, said the Queen "runs a mile from anything called culture".

"She is poorly educated. It's not her fault. It's the fault of her late mother. She had a wretched education, from not terribly well-qualified teachers," he told BBC Radio 5live.

The Royal Channel can be viewed at www.youtube.com/theroyalchannel, and the Queen's Christmas message can also be downloaded as a podcast from www.royal.gov.uk.


23 December, 2007

If you don't like the ISA, you have to elect people who don't like the ISA

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad revealed that he was interviewed by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) yesterday over the video clip of images of a person purported to be a lawyer speaking on the telephone on the appointment of judges.

"The ACA interviewed me and they asked me questions and I answered them," he told reporters after the launch of a book, "The Third World and International Law", at the Perdana Leadership Foundation office here today.

When asked on the government's decision to invoke the Internal Security Act (ISA) on the group behind the activities which threatened public order and national security, Dr Mahathir said: "I used the ISA too.

"It is up to the government and the people to decide, as you know we are a democratic country. If you elect people who are supportive of the ISA, naturally the ISA will be there.

"If you don't like the ISA, you have to elect people who don't like the ISA. The choice is yours."

According to Dr Mahathir, he was elected by the fact that he supported the ISA.

"I was elected by the people, so I thought the people approved the ISA, that's why I implemented the ISA," he said.

On street demonstrations, he said the people were entitled to raise (issues) but there were other ways of doing it.

"Not unless they are prevented from making their presentation in other ways.

"If they don't have a choice, of course they may resort to demonstrations. But if they have a choice, they have their own leaders to explain their problems. I think that should be their first choice," he said.

So, folks, you know what to do, Malaysia may go in for early polls, probably March next year,reported Sin Chew Daily.

'Considering the number of issues cropping up that could work against the Barisan Nasional (BN) ruling coalition, it is quite likely that Abdullah might want to hold the election before the situation worsens,'

The newspaper said the Badawi government's decision to go for early polls was not dictated by the fact that former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim would be eligible to contest by April 2008. He was sacked by then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1997, charged with corruption and sodomy and is at present barred from contesting the elections.

The Election Commission (EC) has already distributed 50,000 transparent ballot boxes and mobilized 250,000 workers across the country to conduct the polls, The Star said.

Some 10.5 million citizens will be eligible to vote in the next general election, with the EC having recently endorsed an additional electoral roll of 412,756 voters. The EC has also removed 141,063 names from the record of registered voters.

The daily said it learnt that UMNO leaders have been informed the next general election will be held in three months and its state leaders are moving into high gear in their preparations for the polls.

Badawi is known to like the numeral "3". Apart from having a "3" in his No. 13 official car registration, he announced the dissolution of the previous parliament March 3, 2004, Sin Chew Daily said.

"It is school break from March 8 to 16, 2008 and it would not be surprising if Abdullah, who believes "3" is his lucky number, dissolves parliament and calls for election in March."

It is speculated that he will make use of the Chinese New Year open house in February to create a feel-good atmosphere ahead of the election.

TUNKU ABDUL AZIZ: Please, sir, may I have more?

AS 2007 makes way for what we pray will be a better year all round for Malaysia, we should reflect and take a dispassionate look at the events of the last few months.

And draw our own balanced conclusions on the social, economic and political developments that have begun to shape not only our thoughts and reactions, but also the direction of our nation.

Judging from our reactions to matters that in the past were not considered sufficiently important to write to the editors about, let alone take ourselves to the streets and risk being arrested under our law, I detect, almost perceptibly, all the outward manifestations of a society that has come of age. We have truly captured the essence and spirit of Merdeka.

All this is not surprising at all because we are being told repeatedly how lucky we all are to live as a free people in a prosperous democratic country. However, what we see as the benefits of "living in a democracy" fall far short of the minimum "freedoms" we should legitimately enjoy.

Like Oliver Twist, immortalised by Charles Dickens, Malaysians are asking for more, not bread of which we have plenty, but more freedom of action in a democratic parliamentary system.

After 50 years of freedom to decide our own destiny, we consider ourselves entitled, and rightly so, to be treated as mature and responsible adults.

We need a lot more space in which to flex our constitutional rights.

We admit that the government has been a little more open and liberal than the previous administration, and for which we applaud heartily.

However, we cannot expect our people to swallow the same old arguments for curbing fundamental rights. The fact that we live in a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural society is no reason to curb fundamental liberties.

It seems to me that instead of embracing diversity as a blessing, we have tended to demonise it and to use it as a justification for diverting the natural course of democratic values, principles and practices.

The development of a democratic society must be premised on mutual trust and good faith. Suspicion and mistrust bordering on open hostility between the government and the governed must be avoided at all costs.

This is a two-way traffic and we who are quick to demand our rights also have responsibilities to carry out so that society may function in peace and harmony.

We are fortunate we have a listening government, and I say this at the risk of being accused of selling my soul, particularly in the prevailing establishment-bashing mood.

I know for a fact that they hear what we say, and I, therefore, hope that they will treat and address the more serious concerns relating to the constitution and, in particular, human rights issues with courage and imagination, in a spirit of sincerity and trust.

It would be a great pity if these "inalienable rights" as we see them were restored purely as a concession to public demands, made under threats of open confrontation.

It would then become a case of too little too late and would then, without a doubt, leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

We understand the security imperatives, but it would be missing the point completely to continue to apply laws that could no longer be justified in today's terms.

I am not even talking about the Internal Security Act.

There is a place for it, but it should be used only after the most careful consideration.

All laws are potentially abusive; the ISA is inherently so, and it is for that reason that its application must be subjected to the closest scrutiny. It must be used as a last resort, not as a law of choice before other less controversial legal avenues are exhausted. No one in his right mind will challenge the need for the ISA in these times, but its application must meet the highest legal and moral standards.

While I am not in favour of street demonstrations, and many others share this view, I believe that the law relating to the right of peaceful assembly needs to be reviewed.

Organisers must apply for a permit which will be ordinarily granted with certain conditions attached to it such as the need to agree with the police the route a procession or march will take to avoid inconvenience to the public.

A permit should be treated purely as part of an administrative requirement to facilitate the movement of a large body of people, and the police like their counterparts in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia should be there to help keep the marchers in order.

In London, police presence is minimal; the bulk is kept in reserve nearby, a street away just in case things get boisterous. At the end of the day, the police is the custodian of law and order.

In several conversations I have had with serving as well as retired senior officers, they are convinced that the issue of a permit should be an automatic process with conditions in the interest of public order.

The present practice is perceived to be unfair because in reality, applications for a permit made by those that are not linked to the government are automatically rejected for reasons which are less than credible and transparent.

There is so much second guessing on the part of the police that in the end, the government gets the blame. In refusing to issue a permit, the police must have evidence that the granting of the permit as such would be against public security and order.

Merely speculating about the possibility of a riot breaking out is not good enough any more.

What have we learnt from the recent events? Laws have to be kept updated, in line with best practices. They must not be allowed to deny ordinary people of their rights under the Constitution.

With 50 years of rule under the belt, I would have thought Barisan Nasional leaders would have been a little more confident in allowing Malaysians a greater degree of freedom consistent with the mood of the time. Bad laws do not make for fair and just governance. Let us work together in advancing true democracy in our country.

To claim as some do that we are a democracy because we have regular national elections is disingenuously disarming, and naive to boot.

There is much more to democracy than the holding of elections. What is more important is to ask, as a one former American ambassador did: "What happens between elections?"

The writer is a former special adviser to the United Nations secretary-general on ethics.
(Taken from The New Straits Times)


22 December, 2007

Catholic weekly told to drop use of 'Allah' in order to renew publishing permit

A Catholic weekly newspaper in Malaysia has been told to drop the use of the word "Allah" in its Malay language section if it wants to renew its publishing permit, a senior government official said Friday.

The Herald, the organ of Malaysia's Catholic Church, has translated the word God as "Allah" but it is erroneous because Allah refers to the Muslim God, said Che Din Yusoff, a senior official at the Internal Security Ministry's publications control unit.

"Christians cannot use the word Allah. It is only applicable to Muslims. Allah is only for the Muslim god. This is a design to confuse the Muslim people," Che Din told The Associated Press.

The weekly should instead, use the word "Tuhan" which is the general term for God, he said.

Allah (Arabic: الله, Allāh) is the standard Arabic word for "God". The term is most likely derived from a contraction of the Arabic article al- and ʾilāh "deity, god" to al-lāh meaning "the [sole] deity, God" (ho theos monos); another theory traces the etymology of the word to the Aramaic Alāhā.

While the term is best known in the West for its use by Muslims as a reference to God, it is used by arabic-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths, including Christians and Jews in reference to "God". The term was also used by pagan Meccans as a reference to the creator-god, possibly the supreme deity in pre-Islamic Arabia.

The term "Allah" comes from the Arabic "al-Lah", that can be translated with "the god". In pre-Islamic times, in the polytheistic religion of Mecca, there was a god that was called by this name. Al-Lah was probably considered as the highest god, but not an acting power, and therefore rarely focused on in rituals. While Islam rejects the other deities, al-Lah is described as the one eternal, omnipotent god. "Allah" is therefore not a proper name, and also Arabic Christians use "Allah" in their Arabic Bible.

In Islam there are 99 names of God, but these are also not to be considered as proper names — the idea of actually naming God for Muslims, will be regarded as a way of reducing God into a human framework. The high number of names must be understood as an expression of the incapacity of man to grasp the total nature of God. Most common of the 99 names are ar-Rahman, the Merciful, and ar-Rahim, the Compassionate.

The word "Allah" is the perfect description of the "One God" of monotheism for Jews, Christians and Muslims!

Is "Allah" only for Islam and Muslims?
[No! It is for All Three Abrahamic Faiths.]

"Allah" is the same word used by Christian Arabs and Jewish Arabs in their Bible, centuries before Islam came.

On page one of Genesis in the Old Testament, we find the word "Allah" seventeen [17] times.

For Arabic they have translated the verse in the New Testament in Arabic from the famous verse in the Gospel John 3:16 -

"For God so loved the world . . . "

- and the word the translators used in Arabic for "God" is the very same word used by Muslims around the planet, "Allah."

Where Does the word "Allah" Come From?

"Allah" comes from the Arabic word "elah"a god' or something worshiped. - (Arabic) means '

This word (elah) can be made plural (gods), as in "aleha" and it can be male or female just as the word in English can be "goddess."

"Allah" comes from "elaha" but it brings more clarification and understanding.

Allah= Has no gender (not male and not female)
"He" is used only out of respect and dignity - not for gender
Allah = Always singular - Never plural
"We" is used only as the "Royal WE" just as in English for royalty
Allah =Means "The Only One to be Worshipped"

Etymologically, the name Allah is probably a contraction of the Arabic al-Ilah, “the God.” The name's origin can be traced back to the earliest Semitic writings in which the word for god was Il or El, the latter being an Old Testament synonym for Yahweh. Allah is the standard Arabic word for “God” and is used by Arab Christians.


The name of God in Arabic.

It is a compound word from the article, 'al, and ilah, divinity, and signifies "the god" par excellence. This form of the divine name is in itself a sure proof that ilah was at one time an appellative, common to all the local and tribal gods. Gradually, with the addition of the article, it was restricted to one of them who took precedence of the others; finally, with the triumph of monotheism, He was recognized as the only true God.

In one form or another this Hebrew root occurs in all Semitic languages as a designation of the Divinity; but whether it was originally a proper name, pointing to a primitive monotheism, with subsequent deviation into polytheism and further rehabilitation, or was from the beginning an appellative which became a proper name only when the Semites had reached monotheism is a much debated question. It is certain, however, that before the time of Mohammed, owing to their contact with Jews and Christians, the Arabs were generally monotheists.

The notion of Allah in Arabic theology is substantially the same as that of God among the Jews, and also among the Christians, with the exception of the Trinity, which is positively excluded in the Koran, cxii: "Say God, is one God, the eternal God, he begetteth not, neither is he begotten and there is not any one like unto him."

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21 December, 2007

A Star is Born-Asian Idol 2007

In an unexpected victory that caught even the winner by surprise, Singapore's Hady Mirza was crowned the first Asian Idol in Jakarta

A dark horse in the singing competition, the 26-year-old winner of the second season of Singapore Idol beat five other contestants, including favourites Mike Mohede, 24, from Indonesia, and Jaclyn Victor, 29, from Malaysia.

Asian Idol had been taken place in Indonesia on Saturday, December 15 2007 and Sunday, December 16 2007. This kind of competition is to find a new star regionally after the first finding of national scale stars.

Star qualities were found in these top 3 competitors: Jacklyn Victor from Malaysia, Mike Mohede from Indonesia and Mau Marcello from Phillipines. According to the professional official judges, they were the best. But unfortunately all their comments to guide the public in choosing the best one were in fact useless. When someone is to win means no professional taking part to give the clue. All the official judges’ comments would come to an ignorance that their words might sound a little bit fussy for voters. A fresh proof had already been shown. Sorted by ability the official judges recommended top 3 competitors but voters did the opposite by choosing one from bottom 3 competitors. Those bottom 3 competitors were Phuong Vy from Vietnam, Hady Mirza from Singapore and Abhijeet from India.

In the second half of Asian Idol Result Show, came the result announcement session which everybody had been waiting for. While the competitors were standing side by side, the hosts announced that Hady Mirza is the first Asian Idol. This good looking single was once assumed not having adequate capability to become even a Singapore Idol. Ironically now he is chosen in the bigger level still with his low skill. At once, the wish to shout ‘a new star is born’ was replaced by ‘a new shame is born’. Shame on us to let international quality skilled Jacklyn Victor for example was beaten by a ‘nothing special’ singer. Shame on us that for the bigger level World Idol we send the wrong competitor.

Some people not wholly agree with an opinion saying that Idol competition is a competition wherever it is held. Sometimes it happens that this competition is a popularity competition rather than an ability competition. By the interference of public on the way the winner determined, it looks more like a luck gambling event than a competition. A singing contest can easily turn into a good looking contest. Frankly, that is exactly the weakness of this Fremantle’s competition. It puts all in the same category so called idol and lets incompetence judges judge over the routine shows.

Since the public are the incompetence judges, they massively perform their unreliable assessments based on personal appetites. It warns us that the judges with phones or cell phones are more dangerous than the official ones. Therefore a special space for them limited in seeking in category of favourite winner only is completely needed to put below the full authority of official judges who may choose the most proper winner instead of public’s full authority to determine anything.

It needs one president or king to run a country and that is the essence of running a country. It needs a little number of official judges to determine a contest winner and that is the essence of running a contest. Asian Idol and the smaller scale Idol competitions were from the very start lost their essence as competitions. What happened to Asian Idol and other Idol competitions were like thousands of presidents managed one civilian of their favourite, ignoring the maximal delegation to more knowledgable experienced persons. This Idol competition conjured morons to one night presidents, entraping people to yearly repeated mistakes.

A question to Fremantle Media is how much longer will this unexpected consequence be let, because to get along with the age is to develop by fixing the weakness to a better version. This sort of development usually happens to a great country, a law, a technology product such as a hardware and software. And how Oprah Winfrey becomes the most expensive TV show host is because she develops and so does the show. Everyone waits to witness no more ‘new shame is born’ because the utmost importance is to witness ‘new star is born’.

9+1 Reasons Why Hady Miza Is Asian Idol

1. He amassed “the other vote”

The contest rules were such that each person had to vote for two candidates, fans would give their “other votes” to a “neural” competitor rather than a strong one and that person is Hady.

2. He’s got the looks.

With his boyish, surfer-dude looks, well-built frame and nice hair, Hady was eye candy. Even the judges acknowledged his physical appeal even if they didn’t like his singing.

3. He’s got the charm.

Hady’s showmanship was excellent. In the entertainment industry, it was not enough to be able to sing well. You had to possess the charm and personality of a star as well.

4. His Malay appeal.

Race matters. Hady happens to be a Malay Singaporean, it meant that a sizeable number of Malays from Malaysia and Indonesians feel a certain kinship with him.

5. His universal appeal.

While Hady attracted the Malay archipelago votes, he also had an unthreatening Asianess about him that people from Vietnam to India could also relate to.

6. He kept it real.

Even though he was an idol to many, Hady still has the essence of the every man that many can relate to.

7. The whole package.

Record label head all agreed that Hady had what they called “the package” A nice balance of everything, looks, talent and the X-factor.

8. Ken’s strategy: Relak bro

Ken’s advise for Hady,” Don’t even think you are in a competition. Just relax and be yourself.”

9. Good song choice.

All contestants had to sing a song in English and another one reflecting their ethnicity. The Malay song, Berserah was a simple song which reaches out instantly. That had a wide appeal among the Malaysians and Indonesians. His second song Beautiful Day by U2, was the same one that Norwegian Kurt Nilsen sang to become World Idol.

10. Divine intervention.

“It was redemption. Even though he won Singapore Idol, he didn’t really got the treatment of a national champion. His win in Asian Idol was a sort of payback.” said Singaporean R&B crooner Imran Ajmain.

Still pondering if he deserved to win?


20 December, 2007

Time :Person of the Year 2007

Vladimir Putin

His final year as Russia's President has been his most successful yet. At home, he secured his political future. Abroad, he expanded his outsize—if not always benign—influence on global affairs

Vladimir Putin Interview With Time Magazine- here. Watch Video here.

Here are excerpts :

How do you see the relationship between Russia and the U.S., going forward?

Russia and the U.S. were allies during the Second and the First World Wars, which allows us to think there's something objectively bringing us together in difficult times. Today to be successful, one must be able to reach agreements. The ability to compromise is not a diplomatic politeness but rather taking into account and respecting your partner's legitimate interests.

Can you give an example?

The North Korean nuclear issue. We treated the issue very seriously. We were thinking about each other's interests and about the interests of the country in question. In the end we resolved the issue to a large extent.

What should be done in Iraq?

From the very beginning, I considered that it was a mistake. As for what we do today and in the near future, overall I agree with President Bush that everything must be done so that the Iraqi authorities are able to deal with security issues on their own. What we differ over is that the U.S. believes it is impossible to impose time frames for the withdrawal. In my view, that would prompt the Iraqi authorities to be more proactive.

Americans wonder why the recent Russian elections could not have been more open and why, for example, Garry Kasparov was put in jail.

Why did Mr. Kasparov, when arrested, speak out in English rather than Russian? When a politician works the crowd of other nations rather than the Russian nation, it tells you something.

Do you think the U.S. wants to see a strong Russia or a weak Russia?

I believe the U.S. already understands that only a strong Russia will respond to the genuine interests of the U.S.

What is NATO's purpose today? If Russia were invited to join, would it do so?

I wouldn't call NATO a putrid corpse of the Cold War, but it is a leftover of the past. How can NATO efficiently fight terrorism? Did it stop the terrorists on 9/11? Where was NATO then? Russia has no intention of joining military-political blocs because that would be tantamount to restricting its sovereignty.

One of the perceptions that Americans have about Russia is that corruption is endemic. How do you handle that?

Badly. I must say that in the transitional economy, it is difficult to address such problems. But I'm fully convinced that down the road, [they] will be tackled more efficiently.

What role does faith play in your leadership?

First and foremost, we should be governed by common sense. But common sense should be based on moral principles first. And it is not possible today to have morality separated from religious values.

How does a lifelong KGB man raised in the Soviet Union become a believer in free markets?

One doesn't have to be a particularly bright highbrow to see the obvious, that the market economy has major advantages over an administrative system. We have had GDP growth of about 7% a year on average over the past seven or eight years. We have paid off all our debt. Real income growth is about 12% for the population, and for me, that is the main achievement.

You must feel lucky that the price of oil is so high.

Fools are lucky. We work day and night!

The government has arrested some �Russian industrialists and seized their assets. Why?

Well, "Thou shalt not steal." They didn't have difficulties with me. They had difficulties with the people of the country and with the law.

Has your KGB training helped you as President? There's an old saying "Once a spy, always a spy."

Well, those are lies. Naturally, some of that background can be of help. They taught me to think independently. They taught me to gather objective information, first and foremost. The second thing, from working in intelligence, is learning the skill of working with people. Above all, to respect the people you're dealing with.

In Russia, a number of journalists have been murdered. Is there some kind of pattern? Is there something that you or the government can do to prevent it?

First, many people, including journalists, are tempted to make a little bit more money here and there, which means they get involved with entrepreneurs, sometimes with criminal businessmen. Then there are genuine fighters against corruption, against the criminal elements. Where such losses have occurred, I take them personally.

What do you think are American misconceptions about Russia?

Well, you know, I don't believe these are misconceptions. I think this is a purposeful attempt by some to create an image of Russia based on which one could influence our internal and foreign policies. This is the reason why everybody is made to believe, like, it's O.K. to pinch the Russians somewhat. They are a little bit savage still, or they just climbed down from the trees and probably need to have their hair brushed and their beards trimmed.

Can you tell us more about Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev?

They moved toward destruction of the system that no longer could sustain the Soviet people. I'm not sure I could have had the guts to do that myself. This is a very important change. It gave Russia her freedom.

What about the conflicts you've had with former Soviet republics on gas prices?
What conflicts? There are world prices for gas. Why should we sell to anyone below the world-market prices? Do Americans? Could you come to a store in the U.S. and ask, "Well, I'm from Canada. We Canadians are close neighbors. Give me that Chrysler at half price"? What would you hear from the salesman? "Go away!"

President George W. Bush said he looked into your eyes and got a sense of your soul. Have you gotten a sense of his soul?

I consider him a very reliable partner, a man of honor. Yes, Iraq was a mistake, but he is a fair and honest man.

Do you think there was a missed opportunity after 9/11 for the U.S. and Russia to work more closely on the anti�terrorism front because of Iraq?

We could have acted in a more coordinated and therefore more efficient way. That is true. But cooperation between our secret services is happening and is achieving results.

Can you describe this cooperation? Are there institutional structures that exist between American and Russian intelligence in the field of fighting terrorism?

Yes, the so-called partnership channels. And recently the work has been quite successful, including cooperation to prevent terrorist acts against the citizens of the Russian Federation and the U.S. I recently discussed this with President Bush over the telephone.

Earlier you used the phrase Thou shalt not steal. Have you read the Bible?

Yes, I have. And the Bible is on my plane.

Do you use e-mail? Do you blog?

Well, it's a big shame. I don't use these technologies. I don't even use a telephone. My staff do it for me. But they do it wonderfully.


19 December, 2007

The Love of God will put you over the top!

Some might say that "Maths" and "interesting" cannot be used in the same sentence unless it is with a "not". However, I just received this really interesting forwarded email, that I just had to share it with you guys:

1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111

9 x 9 + 7 = 88
98 x 9 + 6 = 888
987 x 9 + 5 = 8888
9876 x 9 + 4 = 88888
98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888
987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888
9876543 x 9 + 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888

Brilliant, isn't it?

And look at this symmetry:

1 x 1 = 1
11 x 11 = 121
111 x 111 = 12321
1111 x 1111 = 1234321
11111 x 11111 = 123454321
111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321
11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321
111111111 x 111111111=12345678987654321

Now, take a look at this...

From a strictly mathematical viewpoint, what Equals 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? Well, we have all been in situations where someone wants you to GIVE OVER 100%.

What equals 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help answer these questions:



Is represented as:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.


H-A-R-D-W-O-R- K can be translated as

8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%



11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%



1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

THEN, look how far the love of God will take you:


12+15+22+5+15+6+7+15+4 = 101%

Therefore, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that:

While Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, it's the Love of God that will put you over the top!

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Adha,
enjoy your Dong Zhi(冬至) Celebration,
Merry Christmas and a happy 2008.