Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
releasing his State budget yesterday, the President announced that aid to Yemen would increase to USD120 million to double the size of its current counter-terrorism force, from 300 to 600 personnel, under a quiet domestic program known as Section 1206. and events in Washington and abroad have conspired to now find the real First Lady warming up for another round of "How I Made the World Go Round".
handling a President's cojones
in a major concession to his former nemesis Hillary Clinton, Obama cut less than 1 percent of her department's budget, while promising to cut a lot more from everywhere else. this either signals Washington's continued focus on foreign affairs, or Hillary's got him by the pair, as he needs her support to fight the now Republican Congress.
Tel Aviv remains the biggest recipient for US aid in the Middle East, receiving USD5.6b - including $3.1 billion for the military - and Jordan, the only Arab state besides Egypt with a peace treaty with Israel, gets USD300m in military aid. Pakistan and Iraq meanwhile share about USD9b between them to keep them scary Kurds safely in 'em hills.
Egypt continues getting USD1.5b - including USD1.3b for the military. the aid is holistic: 24 F-16 fighter jets and Chinook helicopters for the air force, USD210m to supply and maintain the Navy's frigates and the ultra-modern M-1 Abrams tanks seen in Tahrir for the Army - arguably the most potent main battle tank today and the bane of Saddam's once feared Revolutionary Guards - which ensures they do not make a move for the throne, and maintain US interests in the region.
if only it were that tidy elsewhere.
ashes to ashes
when the dust has settled this will be a hell of a chapter in Hillary's memoirs, because in terms of potential outcome in international equilibrium, it rivals that of the Berlin in 1989, with the US now in the role of active protagonist. and for someone who's wanted to be President since she was in college it's likely she's keenly aware of, and is reacting accordingly.
throwing the first punch after Mubarak, Hillary came out today in explicit support for the hundreds of protesters in Iran, saying it was high time for dictators everywhere to listen and step down.
not a peep though, for the thousands who came out last Saturday calling for the resignation of Yemen's President Ali, who's been propped up by Washington for 30 years. nor a whimper about the thousands protesting against Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa in Bahrain - where the US Navy's Fifth Fleet is based permanently - who's been in power since 1971, despite the fact that several protesters have already been killed.
and then there's the imaginatively named Abdelaziz Boutifleka in Algeria, who Moscow has backed for over 3o years. already, Mr Buttflika has let loose 30,ooo police on his people - no neutral Egyptian military there - and put opposition leaders under house arrest, shut down the internet and arrested dozens of journalists, thousands of protesters.
where is the fury of the free press and Google circumventing the internet shutdown a'la Egypt? is it different because Putin will broach no shit like that in Algeria? or are the Russians now allies when it comes to the Middle East?..
singling out Iran is understandable though as Tehran has been giving the middle finger to Hillary and Co. for the best part of 40 years, while Ali and al-Khalifa's been nothing but contrite. but it would be unfair to criticise Washington without considering history.
oil and the Suez aside, when they first came into the region it was the height of the Cold War, and they faced THOUSANDS of Russian tanks and millions of troops alone, as Europe was still unprepared to face Moscow on its own at the time. hence having Yemen on your side - a buffer on your south courted extensively by the Russians - was a good piece of business.
the Arab kings and leaders - nothing but the most vicious of warlords themselves - recognised the power play and established their own legacies, locking their wealth in at the expense of their people - who were not actually "their" people, given how the fiercely tribal Arabic culture tends to treat those not of their clan. and so you had every single country in the Middle East since dipping their toes with America at one point or other, regardless of the Palestinian issues.
the same fate as Sudan?
despite her best efforts tho, it does seem to be unraveling as we speak. President Ali is rapidly losing both ends of Yemen, where despite getting moola from the United States, he's been actively courting major Al-Qaeda figures like Jamal Badawi in the south, and using equipment provided by Washington to try crush Houthi (Shia) opposition in the north.
the 20-year standoff between the north and south seems to be coming to a peak now as Ali seems to have finally brought his southern (Sunni) friends to declare war on his northern foes, with the trade-off presumably if he gets to finally crush them, he'll cede Southern Yemen to Al-Qaeda.
this obviously is not in line with American aspirations, but she can't be seen to be losing control of the situation as its developing either, so we don't hear anything about a Jihad being declared by Al-Qaeda against the Houthi 2 weeks ago, and endorsed (the Jihad) by an American ally on Europe's border.
then there's always Ethiopia, where Meles Zenawi is wringing his hands watching restlessly wondering if Washington will abandon him now as well, and if he should thus court the Chinese or go back to please Russia. it may very well be a new world post-perestroika, but some toes remain not to be tread.
watch this space. it's gonna be a hell of a memoir.
Saturday, 12 February 2011
more than a touch of deja' vu actually, when i read that Obama had advised Mubarak to make a "clean and controlled exit" last week. that's exactly what the US said to Marcos when his people started rioting and throwing rocks and he called the White House (his de facto patron) for advice, being forced to flee the Philippines with his tail between his legs in 1986.
i don't mean to sound the pessimist but i wouldn't put too much credence on the POTUS' message to the Egyptian people last Thursday that "they will continue to have a friend in the United States of America" - after all, that's exactly what then Vice-President George Bush said to Marcos, just a few years before they stabbed him in the back and dumped the whole family in Hawa'ii. i.e. as far away from the mainland US as they could, without being accused of "forgetting" a loyal lap dog..
well, actually, that's not entirely accurate. what Bush actually said after Marcos rigged the elections for a FOURTH time, was:
"We love your adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic process, and we well not leave you in isolation."
like they promised Cambodia too to take up arms during the Vietnam War. only to leave them high and dry and turn away while Pol Pot later took power and murdered millions of truly, innocent civilians..
not that the POTUS shouldn't take much credit for ol' Mubs' stepping down; in all likelihood a good amount of firm "thou shalt not fucketh with me" arm twisting came from the Oval Office. but chances are it was not so much the concern about the Egyptian people, but that Osama's fourth wife is actually Yemeni, and is responsible for the bearded one's rising popularity there these last few years.
and the longer Cairo was besieged, the higher chance that Yemenis and Algerians would start going the same way, toppling a few more Harold & Kumar fans.
and you know you can't let that happen, because Yemen shares a border with Turkey - the last state standing between the EU and those scary Arabs. the midget and the model would shit in their pants if that happened; there enough Algerians in gay Paree as it is.
as the EU ambassador to Kuala Lumpur tactfully said when i asked if the ECHR's inclusion in Lisbon would help or hurt Turkey's chances of entry into the EU, "i don't think that anyone in Brussels imagined having Syria and Yemen as neighbours, when they created it back in the 50s".
hearing they hear not
sadly as Chubby Checkers steps down, concerns are being raised that the "Islamist" Muslim Brotherhood (just to remind Americans that these Muslims practice Islam, i guess...) might thus fill the vacuum, and... err. might actually give the people what they need instead.
like when the 'extremists" Hamas winning the Palestinian elections some years back and was opposed by Washington. well. actually it was just because they were taking money from Syria instead.
literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives around the world - an overwhelming majority of that civilian and non-American - have been lost since the Monroe Doctrine was established.
installing and upholding dictators around the world with money, sex, and the absolute power to make people, families - even whole villages - disappear. while European religious and political leaders and toast to your good health. little gets to your head faster..
and like the gambler who can't stop until he's lost all his money, his livelihood - even his children's future, looking for that one magical play to "make it all right", so Washington and the very people she purports to hold dear will keep trying to "make it safe". unable to accept the only way to not lose money, is to not gamble in the first place.
think about it: the country's literally bankrupt, and in debt to ostensibly its own nemesis in the Pacific, primarily to run two unwinnable "wars" simultaneously. sometimes the simplest truths are usually the hardest to hear.
and the truth shall set you free..
in case you think i'm beating a dead horse, you're right: while Americans (rightly) make a fuss and public holidays about 2,000 of their own killed on home soil, let's never gloss over the children killed when American military planes drop their precision cluster bombs in the middle of playgrounds, and babies and children shot in their homes as Marines barge into regular people's houses looking for "intransigents".
pop quiz! what's the difference between the laser-guided cluster bombs killing children in Tirkit and a big-ass plane clumsily crashing into a building and killing people?
what's the difference between a satellite-guided drone killing civilians in Pakistan and a car bomb outside Kabul?
last one: why can the US media show pictures of a pilot shot down in Somalia, being lynched by a mob after he shot up their homes and families from the air, but not a picture of a 6-year old Iraqi being peacefully bathed for the very last time before being laid in the ground, after being killed by a cluster bomb dropped into her school yard?
the battle has been won and the Egyptians have earned a glorious right to reprieve. as the days come yes, a lot more remains to be done. but remember the hurdles may not necessarily be those "medieval, yard stomping Muslims" of yore. and the reasons may not even have anything to do with the proverbial Apple Pie..
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
how many fathers (and moms!) have done this for their kids, eh?... :)
here's a thought:
in today's age where PR companies plant fake "user reviews" online for their clients etc., this could also be an easy way to not just make a client's product go viral online, but circumvent so many copyright/trademark issues with the IP holders in'it? after all, YOU can't use it for your products without paying for it, but the "public" can..
and May the Force be with you.. ;)
Sunday, 6 February 2011
here was the man who made the move from metal into blues seamlessly almost 30 years ago, and brought a generation of guitarists with him..
here was a man who didn't give a rat's ass who was the 'best guitarist' of all time and all that. quiet. unassuming. a gentleman, unlike so many in (t)his world. i know some will remember him singing Still Got the Blues; maybe The Boys Are Back in Town and even his jamming sessions with B.B. King. my memories will always begin, and end, with listening to him play Empty Rooms with my big brother, on our small little transistor, growing up in the quieter reaches of Malaysia..
Rest in Peace Mr. Moore. the world's gone a little bit quieter..
Sunday, 30 January 2011
observing first hand the govt's attempts at doing this over the last 3 years - since the ruling "elite" lost the popular vote for the first time in more than 50 years, and winning just 49.8% of total votes in 2008 - it's growing even more disappointing to see the PM take the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's advice and send out these spam mails over a cultural festival (seems the gentleman did the same a while back out of Delhi as well and vouched for its "effectiveness". however you'd measure that.)
but what really got me were actually two things: one, how he harped in the email about how his late father used to take the family out to visit all their Chinese friends over Chinese New Year and he'd get ang-pows (red packets filled with moola) and two, how in cahooties did he get my email address?!?
don't shoot, Mr. Prime Minister
re: the first one, i just wish he'd stop already continuously linking all his efforts (visit to China, decisions in BN etc.) to his late father. as a leader i wish he'd stand on his own two feet and stop digging up all the family dirt to keep his flag flying. i know quite a few people in strong positions who have had the benefit of powerful/famous fathers and family names as well, and i'm glad to say the last thing they ever want to do is stand on their father's pedestals and thump their chests. it's all rather. well.. childish. and shows how insecure you are, and that you need a big "don't mess with me" gun to feel better.
so let's come straight out: can you be a leader on your own accord - because that's what so many of the people who voted for you want - or do you need the benefit of the family legacy? when will it end?
the second i.e. our email addresses, i just don't know how he got it, unless Google as part of their deal to set up HQ here in Malaysia recently gave up our records to Putrajaya. for my dear readers who might snort at this thought, think again. more notable is that out of habit (being on the road for about 15 years) i didn't even put "malaysia" as my location when signing up for the email. which means its somehow linked through my IP.
but this also begs the question: why didn't my wife, therefore - a Malaysian who also has a Gmail account and actually DOES celebrate the Chinese New Year by birthright - get this Chinese New Year spam as well. regardless, its a small but rather discomfiting aspect of the Govt's poor attempts at on the one hand, "reaching out" via the new media, and on the other showing how they've got their fingers into so many more pies that should technically be out of bounds even to govts, but aren't.
tsk, tsk, save the rhetoric, Mr. Prime Minister, and i say shame on you, because it is MY email address, and i didn't invite you in.. and last time i checked, privacy was still supposed to be part of being a polite "Malay", given that being a Malaysian seems to count for less and less nowadays when it comes to rights..
makes you wonder what else is Google doing for the incumbent "Government", and what else can they provide from your email boxes?..
ok, ok. to be honest, it took me about half a second before it registered. maybe it's cos i was a banker for the good part of a decade... LOL! :) but it put me in a good mood so i looked up a few more and thot i'd share. adios, amigos. ;)
* * *
A guy walks into a bank and says to the teller at the window, "I want to open a fuckin' account." To which the lady replied, "I beg your pardon, what did you say?" "Listen up dammit, I said I want to open a fuckin' account right now." "Sir, I'm sorry but we do not tolerate that kind of language in this bank!"
The teller left the window and went over to the bank manager and told him about her situation. They both returned and the manager asked, "What seems to be the problem here?" "There's no damn problem," the man said, "I just won 50 million in the lottery and I want to open a fuckin' account in this damn bank!"
"I see sir," the manager said, "and this bitch is giving you a hard time?"
* * *
A rich, dying man, laid on his deathbed, requested to be joined at his bedside by his vicar, his bank manager and his lawyer. He instructed them that he wished to be buried, when he finally passed away, along with all his money. He gave each of them fifty thousand pounds and asked them to throw the money on top of his coffin, in the burial plot, when he died. A couple of days later the old man passed away and was buried within the week.
At the wake, the three men were chatting and the vicar was suddenly overcome with guilt. He confessed to the other two that he had only thrown only half of the money onto the coffin, as the church needed urgent repairs to the roof. The bank manager thought, ‘What the heck if we are having a confession,’ and told the other two men that he had also only thrown half the money in, as the ‘Credit Crunch’ was hitting hard and he needed some money for the bank to stop it going bust.
The lawyer jumped up and said to the other two, ‘I think that is a shameful act on both of you. I threw a cheque in for the full amount!”
* * *
An engineer, a chemist and a banker stop at a small inn. “I have only two rooms”, says the innkeeper, “so one of you will have to sleep in the barn”. The engineer volunteers to sleep in the barn, and the others go to bed in the hotel. Soon the engineer knocks on the hotel door, saying that there is a cow in the barn and as a Hindu he can’t sleep there.
“No problem”, says the chemist, and moves to the barn. But soon the chemist knocks on the hotel door, saying that there is a pig in the barn and as a Jew he can’t sleep there.
“No problem”, says the banker, and moves to the barn while the others sleep in the hotel. Soon there is another knock on the hotel door, even louder. The innkeeper opens the door, and sees a very upset cow and pig.
Monday, 29 November 2010
Dan Carter becomes the record points-scorer in Test rugby - in the last match of the Autumn Test series - and i'm now occasionally writing with the Malaysian Insider as well - awesome pawsome.
and speaking of paws, check out this clip with an amazing soundtrack - looks like the black cat had some homeys, yo! the white one does a great job of holding 'em off tho at 3:1.
did you see that instinct?!! eyes open, low, low centre of gravity and HOLD THE LINE. Mother Nature, man. beats the UFC hands down.
unless of course, its Gina Carano: 12-1-1 in Muay Thai and undefeated in the UFC until her last fight with the Cyborg. then. well..
you're pretty much screwed, aren't you?!! loL! ;) have a great week all and God bless. :)
Monday, 15 November 2010
what was supposed to be a comprehensive and convincing road map to steer the whole country into the promised land of developed status - and the resultant higher incomes and standards of living that come with it - turned out instead to be completely FULL of hyperbole and statistical anomalies.
take for example Chapter 5. disregard errors like citing ‘Global Insight’ instead of ‘IHS Global Insight’ as a source (a major no-no in learned articles, a given in Malaysian publications) and the obvious manipulations like showing Malaysia’s urbanisation as 5 percent higher than Japan’s, and including Russia in a chart which links growth to urbanisation (even though Russia was a centralised economy until just 20 years ago and is totally unlike the other countries on the list), because without these adjustments Malaysia would have been cast in a poorer light - and it wouldn't do to be so negative early on.
no, the real creative work starts on page 4 (or page 126 of the whole book) where Chart 5-3 cites the UK as having 13 percent rural population to argue a point, then the next page changes that to 13 percent to NEGATIVE ONE percent to make another point. that's a massive 14 percent change in the UK’s urban population in the space of just two short paragraphs - David Cameron still can't figure out how they did it.
it's like scolding the bank officer for not approving your RM200,000 loan application although you make RM10,000 a month, and then asking the tax department for a rebate because you make just RM500 and can't afford to feed the kids; you cannot just change the base of your arguments when its convenient. or can you?
the report then goes to define 'rural area GDP' as a proxy for growth in the agricultural sector, which by default makes all industrial areas ‘urban’. now, when was the last time you defined factories as ‘urban’?
it dismisses the UK’s higher agricultural GDP growth as an anomaly, citing “multiple incentive plans” as the reason, instead of acknowledging the tenfold-higher rate of mechanisation in the UK’s agricultural industry, and conveniently ignores Malaysia’s own massive “incentive plans” in agriculture, which despite being similar in proportion comes nowhere near to yielding the same results.
essentially, the project aims to propel Malaysia to developed country status by 2020 by:
a. creating 1.7 million jobs in the Klang Valley by the year 2020 - or 170,000 jobs EVERY YEAR - to cater to the additional 4 million in GKV population, of which 1.5 million will be foreign ‘high-value talent’ read: expatriates (pages 129 & 136)
b. attracting 100 of the world’s most dynamic firms within priority sectors such as the services and technology sectors, and
c. increasing the standard of living by for example increasing the amount of green areas per capita from the current 12m2 to the WHO’s minimum 162 standard (page 130)
which begs the questions
1. how do we attract "the world’s top companies", when our corporate tax rate is 25 times higher than Singapore, who are also vying for the same clientele?
2. can anyone in the Klang Valley today realistically say that they see 170 THOUSAND jobs being created EVERY YEAR FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS? And if we miss one year’s target, say, just 100,000 were created in 2011, will the remaining years absorb this 70,000 shortfall by creating almost 180,000 jobs every year after that?
3. how will the surrounding Klang Valley cope with the massive influx of ‘high-value talent’ from overseas? this 'talent', presumably attracted by much higher than average local salaries, will inevitably drive up the already high cost of houses in the Klang Valley. will the anticipated rise in local salaries offset this increase – putting us back in square one in disposable income – or otherwise?
4. given a large chunk of the jobs created will go towards expatriates, who will benefit the most from the "tenfold increase in household income" in the GKV (page 126), how will Govt ensure the bulk of the money is spent in the country - benefiting the country as a whole - or will we stand helpless as it's all repatriated where they came from?
5. assuming that many of the additional 1.5 million expatriates brings a spouse, child and a maid, and the remaining Malaysians (being young) add an average 2 children by 2020, where will we build the additional schools, parks and homes for these families to live in, while building 16m2 of greenery per capita from the current 12, and then maintaining it? will the expatriate children go to the same schools as locals? or will new ones continue being built at significantly higher costs?
6. given that all but ONE public protests against additional development to protect green areas in the past failed (the only one that was successfully halted was in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, where a particular person married to the then Deputy Prime Minister was involved in the protest), will this mean that the Govt is now more open to public feedback?
you could go on and on and make the fat lady cry but essentially, its a 41 page chapter that just continuously repeats the contradictory (and often, sadly, manipulated) assertions made in the first 8 pages, and neglects key concerns such as water supply (40 percent of our piped water is still leaking into the ground, and instead of fixing the problem - old pre-World War 2 pipes - we keep making new dams and killing forests), rising costs of health care, downtime lost through traffic congestion etc. and providing concrete measures to address them.
maybe it was the Minister Idris Jala’s bold declaration last June of grabbing the bull by the horns, and coming to terms with the harsh realities facing us.
i guess i really wanted to believe that after 2 years, several million ringgit and endless teh tarik sessions that the brightest minds in our country and business community (not always one and the same) had created with a solid, pragmatic plan to drive the country forward well into the 21st century.
i guessed wrong. and don't even get me started on Chapter 6: "Powering the Economy with Oil, Gas & Energy"..
Friday, 12 November 2010
And digging up holes in the ground works out my delts and trap. Amen.
Brown Man back in de' house, yo.
Sunday, 5 September 2010
KUALA LUMPUR: veteran comedian Yusof Chong, 63, passed away @ the Selayang Hospital here yesterday, after falling into a coma late last week due to health-related complications.
Yusof, who's real name is Yusop Mat Said, made a living at stand-up comedy, and was especially famous for his takes on politicians of the time. he was a rare gentleman who could combine humour with a stage presence that more than once evoked laughter from his subjects themselves, an especially tricky thing in this nowadays hyper-sensitive and politically charged environment that Malaysia finds herself in today.
what gets me is that not only was he also an amiable and generous man, but also, as few are aware, was a single parent who worked while bringing his 5 children aged 6 to 16 up single-handedly, after his wife passed in 1994. not one for wallowing in self-pity, this. in his own way an inspiration for every one of us who tends to forget his blessings (and humour) when things get tough. fitting perhaps, that he finds peace in this, the month Ramadhan..
Rest in Peace, sir. you leave a world behind richer for your laughter, and being here.
Friday, 2 July 2010
which is why seeing ads like these - NOT a fake i assure you - does sometimes throw the uninitiated into a daze..
now, jokes aside, the simple fact that some people WILL vote for her, simply because she can handle a 70-year old Tommy gun blowback, is the real nut job. so the next time you get a upset at the "reaction" of "ordinary Americans" interviewed on TV on matters as diverse but maybe close to you e.g. religion, immigration or even a foreign invasion, just remember this clip. unfortunately, it's really pretty much a society that 's shooting itself in the foot, and a lot of it is eating away at society from the inside..
in fact going by a recent survey ahead of Independence Day (on July 4th), more than 1/4th (26%) of Americans don't know who they got their independence from. worse, forty percent of young American aged between 18-29 got it wrong. some guesses included Japan, Mexico and get this - China. the way its going i'm surprised Canada wasn't in there. oh, wait - they were allies... weren't they? then again, i should talk: Malaysians have a bunch of political 'leaders" who tend to make racist statements against those of other races and calling them "immigrants" - while conveniently forgetting that their parents and grandparents were also immigrants - just to win some votes as well. wonder they'd make out of being cut from the same cloth..
Saturday, 26 June 2010
so going into the knockout rounds today after what's been a stupendous first round - not great in playing standards generally but superb when it came to upsets! :) - we got Uruguay vs. the South Koreans and, after the way Japan took Denmark apart piece by meticulous piece, everyone's looking forward to their next match as well. sadly win or lose, good game or bad some in the mainstream still - like i wrote in this post last year - continue to innocuously write us off because we're. well. Asians, i guess. i mean, check out this write up by the Associated Press, for goodness' sake - immediately assuming the US will meet Uruguay in the quarters if they beat Ghana tonight - duh??!
who would've thought Ze Germans would go through such hairy moments in Group D - losing to the SERBS and beating Ghana by just one solitary goal.
or that Italy would get an early summer, and the French would STUPENDOUSLY self-implode, leaving Domenech struggling to figure what the heck was going on.
when supermodels and anonymous fans alike would forget themselves and where they put their phones and get caught up in their teams' roller-coaster ride.
and that England would meet Germany in the second round, or as Beckenbauer put it, ""stupidly, the English have slipped up a little by finishing second in their group". LOL! :) talk about trash talking.
Mexico and Chile will be sorely tempted to do against Argentina and Brazil what Korea did against Messi & Co. i.e. play an open game and keep it beautiful, running quick balls to their fast forwards - but if they do they'll get ripped up just like Ji Sung and his boys did. but count on Chile to hold their ground as well and Mexico's 2 young strikers to beat Argentina's flat back several times, drawing a freekick or three on the edge of the box.
speaking of which, tactically there's been little to celebrate in in these Games: most teams continue to move up and down in a square block like Barca did when they demolished Man United in the Champion's League 2 years ago - only less fluidly and of course, without Messi. they're still trying to break the offside trap by playing short diagonal balls to a striker running to the edge of the box to draw keepers out and fish for a penalty or yellow card.
those new balls are proving a nightmare for goalkeepers to handle, and professional fouls - like stepping in front of your opponent when you can't reach the ball and kicking the ball away with your next step, as if your opponent just got in your way to the ball - are increasingly utilised by smaller teams as well. a key indicator that globalised football also teaches you to cheat. because if you don't the other side will, and get that freekick or penalty against you.
the clincher though has got to be the 2 perennial black horses in any tournament - Portugal and Spain - who are meeting in the last match of the second round. it seems there's a lot of baggage with Ronaldo leading his team out as captain - when the vice‑president of the Portuguese FA passed away in 2007, his dying wish was for "the kid" to be made captain; Luiz Felipe Scolari duly obliged against Brazil that February and in July 2008 Carlos Queiroz made the choice permanent.
no purist will want either team to go out so early but one has to, so i'm hoping for Spain to go through. if only because i'm heading there in a few days and i'd HATE to wanna catch the World Cup in bars or pubs and have the whole country go "what-evvver"... ;) but seriously, wouldn't it be GREAT to see them progressing while i'm there, and experience/absorb the passion and the fiesta of it all.. :)
and who knows, they might just meet Japan in the final 8 - and Korea meets the States. wouldn't that be something to write home about? WOOHOOO!!
Kindra Arensen, in her own words just a 32-year-old “uneducated housewife”, appeared on CNN two weeks ago when she was organising wives of the Gulf fisherman who were concerned about the safety of their husbands, working to clean up the oil.
so BP invited her to go behind “enemy lines.”, giving her full and complete security access to go into the "heart" of operations meetings in Venice, Louisiana; open door invitation to sit in crisis management meetings in the Homer Incident Command Post - which is responsible for the entire Louisiana operations and even take Coast Guard flights and boat rides over the actual blow site - everywhere that anyone could ever want to go to get an inside look at what’s really going on. a journalist's dream. :) and according to her, everyone - from the Government, EPA to obviously the oil industry - is in on the cover up, and this was said to her in person by someone from the NOAA itself.
skeptics might say that she probably misunderstood what was going on, but as a former journo, take it from me that you'd be amazed at what many people reveal "in confidence", when they think that you're impressed with what they know. AND she got to see not just the words, but the actions as well. you be the judge.
everything she thought she knew that was there to 'protect' her, is not. she initially kept quiet because her husband - like all fishermen who lost their jobs - is now getting paid by BP to help clean up the oil. but after biting her tongue for a few days she's decided to break her silence, and is pressing other wives to ask questions about the safety of their husbands working near the oil.
as you watch this please remember: this is from an untrained, non-journalist layperson, who just had the opportunity to see for herself and speaks what she sees at. what is coming out from her is the simple truth, as she's seeing her family and livelihood being torn apart, slowly, from within.
crisis management and social media - 2 things that the corporate world is still struggling to come to terms with. welcome to the internet world, yo.. ;) have a good weekend everyone and God speed!
* * *
update 2.43pm: haha! talk about censorship - somehow BP got to PBS and had them remove the clip! no drama: here's a slightly shorter version provided by Michael Panzner - now you know you've got to see it!! :) eejits.. like i said: they still don't understand social media..
hat tip Yves for the heads up! ;)
Friday, 18 June 2010
leadership meanwhile continues to be guided by lawyers and PR consultants instead of getting to the matter at hand - STOP using dispersants, and collect as much of the gunk that will float on to the surface using modified-tankers (which was effectively used in the Gulf War clean-up and are readily available now), instead of chemically breaking up the oil underneath to let it float undetected and - potentially - spread throughout the world. because sometimes, the easiest solution really is the most effective.
latest - scientists have discovered that the oil from the well is unusually high in methane - more than 40%, instead of the normal 5% - meaning it gobbles up 8 times more oxygen, killing more marine life and coral reefs as it spreads around the world.
only the truth. have a good weekend everyone - and God speed..
Thursday, 17 June 2010
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
i know i called a moratorium on writing about the oil leak til its plugged, but it looks like all bets are off. an ex-oil industry grunt who's been studying every single measure taken and its time-line thinks he might've finally figured it out, and says that if we've been wondering why none of the SOPs seem to be working so far, its because we've been led to look from the wrong perspective and should instead be asking what it is they're not telling us. (read the full text here).
the gist is he's saying given all the measures that's fallen short and how long it's taken to come to terms with them, he figures that BP is basically hiding the fact that the pipes are actually busted WAY FARTHER DOWN than just the riser, and that oil is actually leaking out through fissures in the cement underground. which is why they've decided to just let the taps flow openly and try to catch some of it, rather than risk building pressure up in the pipes so high that it might blow the fissures wide open, and make things a whole lot worse.
so given the fissures, he figures there's no way it will stop til the whole reservoir is dry i.e. approx. 2 to 2.5 BILLION barrels, fully released into the ocean. and i gotta say he makes a really good case - the delay in top kill failure was a clincher.
which might also explain why BP was so keen on using an essentially experimental dispersant so early - to try and minimise the visible damage on the surface and buy time and eventual deniability in legal hearings. because in a crisis, the public usually reacts to what they can see with their own eyes first, and not so much til later the unseen damage. its a tactic Exxon used to its full advantage in 1989, and later even got its fine reduced from USD5 billion to just USD500 million.
plugging the pudding
a letter sent 2 days ago by the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce to the BP CEO confirms the massive violations done to cut costs and time despite warnings from its own personnel and contractors. the drilling was basically way behind schedule, and BP's executives overruled its own roughnecks to get back on track. its like a movie. makes incredible reading, and corroborates the basis of the theory above - that the cement has given way (read the full letter here)
some of the more bizarre violations include using just 5 “centralizers” (to prevent channeling during the well's cementing) instead of the 21 recommended by its own engineers, because it would take 10 extra hours to install them, and using a well design with fewer barriers to gas flow and not running a cement bond log at all to evaluate the cement job as it was being done, to save 3 days and USD1.5 million in rig rental, plus contractor's fees.
this in addition to the dozens of dispensations given to BP in recent years that's been uncovered since the leak, from being allowed to submit their reports unverified by independent oversight, a lack of safety protocols from sea to shore and when they have submitted safety plans to the authorities, they were outdated by up to 20 years, hence the repeat of the incident from 1979. no wonder the whole thing caught them "by surprise". sorta like this guy. it's called a WTF Moment..
it's unfortunate that Obama got sidetracked long enough by the economy to not see this coming, or maybe had it lower down his list. one of the first things Baby Bush did under his business friendly less-government policies was downgrade the authorities monitoring Oil & Gas, cut their operating budget and manpower then appointed a former Halliburton senior executive as head of the oversight committee - the same Halliburton that Vice President Cheney used to work for, and BP's largest independent contractor.
whether he would've have done things differently is debatable, but there is no denying that the focus up to the explosion had been almost exclusively on the banking crisis, unemployment and rising state bankruptcies inherited from 8 years of de-regulation and Arabian adventures under George Jr. speaking of which, you gotta hand it to him, he still knows how to make headlines, as only he can.
attrition by ignorance
i've had a couple of replies to earlier posts saying i come on pretty strong sometimes and shouldn't i trust them to know better? and that's the problem - they do know better. its not for lack of knowing, from energy to banking its how big businesses today really work at these levels and when push comes to shove, everyone's the same - morals are the first thing out the window and if you think for one second the bottomline is less important than the "public"'s welfare then its really time to wake up, put on your sunnies and take a cold, hard look at today.
the fact is none of these emerging details contradict what we've tried to stress all along; from the diamond cutters would fail to make a clean-cut and the experimental nature of the dispersant (here) to pointing out the U.S. law's cap on liability in an oil spill at just USD75 million more than a month ago (here), for which Congress is now frantically trying to amend (the full PBS report here). it sucks sometimes to be right and i don't enjoy it, but its the only way i know how to make a stand on Business As Usual - by trying to point out the malpractices and their likely consequences while its happening, and establish a mark for future arguments.
i stand by everything i've said to date including that BP knew the sh*thole they'd dug for themselves from Day One, and everything from thereon - including isolating the survivors from being debriefed by the authorities - was a smokescreen to buy time, and eventually make their case by pleading ignorance in an "unprecedented" event in oil & gas history.
am i happy my warnings are turning real of course not - i'd rather have egg on my face than 2 billion barrels of oil (42 gallons per barrel, meaning 84 BILLION GALLONS) killing everything Mother Nature intended to keep safe. but it doesn't work that way, so i do what i can and that's write. grrrrrrr.. *sigh*. sorry.
i know that management is paid to make the hard calls and take the risks but one day, someone will write a book about all the times that management f*cked up and cost billions, just by not listening to the grunts.. and what are the odds that grunts will have to pay here too, and the suits get off scot-free?
and no richard i'm not forgetting the spill in our own backyard, but this is SO much more, bro, affect the world and sea life for decades.. make all the good work we've done so far? rhetorical. sigh. enough o this. time for a blast from the past mahn, from 1986. when we were young.. :)
Sunday, 13 June 2010
teams have learnt from Inter Milan on how to keep Messi quiet, while giving him the same treatment they did Maradona almost 30 years ago. understandably Argentina isn't Barcelona, but if his teammates don't step up soon, he's gonna get kicked out of this World Cup. literally. :(
England simply have no pace in centreback, and with Ledley King perennially injured and the aging Carragher his replacement - he was consistently late in his tackles and outrun by the Americans - better skilled and more fluid opponents will easily slice England up from the middle, while shackling Rooney in the same place upfield.
the Lions continue searching for a safe pair of hands after Peter Shilton, while the US might just turn out the dark horses of the tournament - and Landon Donovan's stock soar as the Yanks start believing in themselves, and flex their new-found muscle.
speaking of which
i remember watching the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the euphoria that just swept the rugby world as every neutral wanted, willed the Springboks on to win it - which they did!! :)) it culminated in a victory that was so fraught with emotion in a country that just a decade before had been torn by war at its borders and apartheid. but i can't see them getting past the group matches here.
South Korea meanwhile are kicking ass, and are the only ones who overcame first match jitters to score a brace and get things going. :) it was great to see them make a mockery of Greece's coach Rehhagel who said their height superiority would win them the match, and Korea showed them that football is played with their feet, as they blew them away with smart running and precision passing.
speaking of which, look at how Ji-Sung read the game and was actually already running on to the ball before the Greeks lost it - this is not a coincidence and speaks volumes of his football brain, and is why Ferguson bought him in the first place. flashier players like Ronaldo and Messi will get the headlines, but the fact is United lost their 2 Champions League matches right after they took him out, when suddenly the opponents had acres of space in the midfield without a Korean terrier cutting down spaces and giving them hell.
i'd wear this guy's name on my back. given the levels of passion so far i'm gonna try and catch the African vs. underdogs matches the most, specifically Serbia-Ghana (today), Japan-Cameroon(t'row) and the Ivory Coast-Portugal on Tuesday. can't wait for Argentina vs Korea - free-flow football on both ends? that's gonna be a blast!! :))
by then of course, the Brazilian fans will be out in force and every other newspaper will, for some inexplicable reason, be printing their pictures en-masse.
no idea why.
football fans with sleepy eyes and knocking into tables will be the norm but what the heck - it's only the World Cup, doods! LOL! i'll be on the road so will catch the WC in different places - Belgium for the group matches, Spain in the knockouts and the UK for the finals so its gonna be awesome, watching and cringing with the local fans. ;)
so enjoy the rest of the South African World Cup y'all - and THANK HEAVENS FOR SATELLITE TV!! WOOHOOOO!!!
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Music From Another Room: DEFINITELY one for Saturday nights. a brilliantly quirky movie. can't really put my finger on it, but maybe.. i dunno. maybe it's because deep inside, we wish that we could one day find that something that makes us let go that easily too. well, not easily. but completely.. :) and Jesus. wow. :)
"we got nina cruising round the bario with a dishwasher named Jesus!" LOL! just brilliant. never look down on a dishwasher. cos he might just one day be the one who shows your daughter true love.. :)
Crazy Beautiful: another crappy trailer, but a wonderful afternoon watch..
"how'd you do that?"
"do what? i wasn't even there."
"yes you were. you were so there"...
and that soundtrack.. :) and to cap that Sunday night,
do you remember your first love? do you remember how if felt in your first kiss?.. :)
i know they're all on the surface about a boy meets girl, but i feel its more about redemption. its about just one day finding that someone that it all somehow makes sense. and suddenly, you find a willingness to believe in yourself. for all its worth.. one day. doesn't mean it makes sense! :) but maybe its not meant to..
have a GREAT weekend everyone and God speed ;))
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
from The Times online today:
BP’s oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico may be up to four times the scale estimated by a government scientific panel, pumping out 100,000 barrels a day in what equates to the company’s “worst case scenario” and prompting new accusations that executives are stonewalling the truth.
The news — revealed by one of the members of President Obama’s Flow Rate Technical Group - runs counter to BP’s claims that it is now capturing “the majority” of the oil and channeling it into a tanker.
Dr. Ira Leifer, a researcher in the Marine Science Institute at the University of California who is a member of the technical group, said that the oil company’s operation to cut the leaking pipe and cap it with a new containment device last week may have increased the surge of oil several times over.
“How much larger I don’t know, but let’s just quote BP,” he said, referring to the 100,000 barrel rate that BP executives indicated weeks ago would be their “worst case scenario. “In the data I’ve seen, there’s nothing inconsistent with BP’s worst case scenario” stating that the previous 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day estimate had simply been the “lower bound” estimate.
you'll be glad to now that the authorities also kept quite about ANOTHER oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, maybe because, you know. they didn't want to over-stress the public or anything.. from The USA Today website:
... satellite images have revealed a 10-mile-long slick from another drilling rig, which apparently began leaking days after the Deepwater Horizon disaster began. Citing an environmental group and federal documents, the Press- Register reports that the smaller leak, from the Ocean Saratoga platform began around April 30 and was noted by federal officials May 15.Diamond Offshore denied these reports 4 hours ago, saying it's been misinterpreted. this despite Federal officials acknowledging on May 1st that oil from the Ocean Saratoga spill might also be washing ashore in Louisiana. so who do we believe? aww, c'mon!, you know, what's a few thousand more barrels into the ocean everyday when you have 100,000 already gushing out right? i mean.. let's believe the oil companies! this is semantics. right?? sheeesh..
The spill was first reported by SkyTruth, which said it accidentally discovered the separate slick while scrutinizing Deepwater Horizon images. Photos taken during overflights "appear to show a large oil crew boat pumping dispersants into the water at the spill site," the Press- Register writes.
last crack: seems the pipe has also developed fissures on 2 spots along the pipe, raising concerns that something has happened inside (the sea bed has already dropped several feet since the rupture) that they haven't figured out yet, and might blow another 2 leaks. in which case it's hasta la vista, baby..
that's it. this is getting too depressing. i'm calling a moratorium on the leak news til its stopped definitively by relief wells in August. getting tired of all this bullshit.. i mean, it keeps happening over and over again, just like the Aussie and Canuck property markets are gonna crash, too, right after or at the same time as China's commercial district goes Boom! why??.. because no one seems to want to admit that there's a problem, and so everyone keeps printing money they don't have to pump into the system - and calling it growth.
heck, ING is actually giving loans sans principal repayment Down Under because it's so confident prices will keep on rising forever! WTF?! Rule #1 in ANY markets: if it's too good to be true, it probably is. sigh... * sorry to be the bearer of bad news, CL.. :( we've already cashed out all portfolios last March, and shifted to USD before i came over. keep safe, y'all and get set for a hell of a Q4..
Monday, 7 June 2010
her resignation came amidst increasing high profile calls for her to be fired, for comments made an online news site during a spontaneous sidewalk interview. herewith said interview.
i dunno about you, but when I turn 89? not only am i gonna say whatever the hell i want but also do the boogie sayin' it! which is not to say much cos i'll probably slip and break my hip again doing it LOL!
i mean, my mother just turned 70 a year ago and its like suddenly, a light bulb just went whooosh! inside her head, you know? and she's had this epiphany and goes, "WOOHOOO!! heeyyy - statistically, i'm on extra-time now, right so who cares what i say or do. right?!? HAAAA!!" seriously. can you imagine when she's EIGHTY-NINE??
and don't even get me started about my dad; it's like double lines and one-way road signs just PUFF! *disappeared* when he turned 70, and sitting in the passenger's seat while he's driving gives me white knuckles - and i used to be a test-driver!! holy ***..
so kudos to the lady. maybe she just got tired of all the PC bullsh** all these years and it finally came out. shame on team Obama for keeping quiet while high profile critics like former White House Press Sec Ari Fleischer harries for her to be fired. i mean, since when do journalists have to be neutral in our personal thoughts? objective in our work: Yes. not have an opinion? No!
otherwise we wouldn't be allowed to vote either! and God forbid we might be offended if someone had a different view. sheesh. grow a pair, already will ya? what's wrong with these people?? i mean, i hate what Washington and Tel Aviv does but have wonderful friends in both countries who are like family. i love my country but abhor the management too - i have an opinion. but doesn't mean i can't and don't give credit where it's due.
and you know the irony here, right? is that she's out because basically its anti-Semitic, her comments. when in fact the term Semite refers to both Jews AND Arabs. you don't hear much being said about people bad-mouthing and humiliating Arabs every day now in the US do you? sheeeshh..
thanks Helen. maybe it's good to leave now, anyway. it's not as if there's any quality left to report on nowadays. it's the era of the small balls and the no-balls today. polls-driven politicians.
rest easy, Padrone.