25 December 2008

Danger of polycarbonate and plastic bottles

Plastic polycarbonate bottles are still popular as drinking water bottles. (check the no 7 within the triangle at the bottle's base). However polycarbonate releases a chemical known as bisphenol A also know as BPA.(the Canadian government took the stance to officially declare bisphenol A toxic). Whereas plastic industry safety studies find no significant health effects from typical daily doses of bisphenol A, some US government studies found harmful health effects especially to children and expecting moms, but also for male sexuality and reproduction as well.

The problem is that bisphenol A acts as a "xenoestrogen," which just means it's like the female hormone estrogen, except for two things:

1) it's foreign to the body, which is what "xeno" means, and

2) it is way more harmful than our natural estrogen for everyone, male and female.

Breast cancers are much more of a risk in women who carry a high burden of xenoestrogens, and both sexes are subject to a huge range of other harmful health effects. The most far-reaching effects are birth defects and miscarriages. Another effect is a disruption of beta cell function in the pancreas, which creates a pre-diabetes type condition of high blood insulin and insulin resistance.

Never leave a plastic water bottle on a hot car seat, because the phthalates used in the manufacture of plastics leach into the water that you then drink. Phthalates are another xenoestrogen. However, with the polycarbonate bottles it has been found that even at room temperature, bisphenol A leaches into the water, and more so with increased temperature. Also with repeated use of plastics, you may notice the fine line scratches that you see on an old plastic container. These increase the surface area exposed to the liquid inside and release more of the xenoestrogens into the water.

Sure, glass can break. But if you're careful with it, that's not a problem. And considering all the problematic substances in plastics, the breakability of glass does not seem like such a tragedy. Once you get used to carrying it, it is just as easy as polycarbonate bottles.

So next time you order your favourite teh tarik, make sure it is in glass and not in plastic cup.

18 December 2008

12 Things You Should Know About Aspirin

Aspirin, that old standard in everyone's medicine chest, can really pack a wallop. So much so that the American Heart Association has long recommended aspirin therapy for people who've had a heart attack, stroke caused by blood clot, unstable angina, or "ministrokes." The AHA also notes that even people who have not experienced such an event but who are at increased risk because of family history, say, may also stand to gain from aspirin therapy.

We're certainly familiar with our aspirin: About 60 percent of people ages 65 and older pop aspirin at least once a week. But this cheap, over-the-counter pill is not benign, and regular use should be discussed with a doctor. And beware marketing claims. Bayer was sent warning letters by the Food and Drug Administration today for touting two products—Bayer Women's Low Dose Aspirin + Calcium (Bayer Women's) and Bayer Aspirin with Heart Advantage (Bayer Heart Advantage)—for making unproved health claims.

Along with its benefits, aspirin has limitations, too. A roundup of recent research suggests taking aspirin regularly may do the following:

1) Cut pre-eclampsia risk during pregnancy. A research review published in The Lancet in 2007 suggests that pregnant women who took aspirin or other antiplatelet drugs were 10 percent less likely to develop the disorder that involves high blood pressure and potentially serious complications for mother and fetus. Aspirin therapy during pregnancy should definitely be discussed with an obstetrician.

2) Reduce risk of developing colorectal cancers. The journal Gastroenterology published a study earlier this year that found a significantly lowered risk of developing the cancers in men with regular, long-term aspirin (and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory) use. The benefits, however, were not evident until individuals had amassed a total of five consistent years of regular use. Also, the dose with the biggest benefit—325-mg pills more than 14 times each week—is greater than typically recommended.

3) Lower a woman's risk of breast cancer. A research review published this month in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found a 13 percent relative risk reduction in women who used aspirin regularly compared with those who did not. The findings found an overall reduced risk of 12 percent for regular use of NSAIDs in general. Previous research on breast cancer risk and NSAID use has shown conflicting results.

4) Throw off test results for prostate cancer. In an issue of this month's journal Cancer, researchers reported that men who used aspirin and other NSAIDs regularly had about 10 percent lower levels of the prostate marker prostate-specific antigen. The researchers suggest this may hinder the detection of prostate cancer in regular users.

5) Offer some protection against Alzheimer's disease. Research has been inconclusive, but a review published this year in the journal Neurology found people who used aspirin had a 13 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's. The study added to an ongoing debate about whether certain types of NSAIDs, say ibuprofen vs. aspirin, were more beneficial.

6) Help prevent strokes—unless you also take ibuprofen. A small study published this year in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that stroke patients taking daily aspirin to prevent another stroke who also took ibuprofen—say, for their arthritis—reaped no antiplatelet benefit. After the patient stopped the ibuprofen, the aspirin became effective. The Food and Drug Administration warns that aspirin's benefits may be diminished by ibuprofen use.

7) Prevent asthma in middle-aged women. A study published in the journal Thorax this year found that women 45 and older who took 100 mg of aspirin every other day were 10 percent less likely to develop asthma over the next decade than women given a placebo. The study authors note that aspirin could exacerbate symptoms in about 10 percent of people already diagnosed with asthma.

8) Protect against Parkinson's disease. A 2007 study published in Neurology suggests that women who used aspirin regularly (defined as two or more a week for at least a month at any point in their life) may be 40 percent less likely to develop the disease.

9) Provide zero protection against heart attacks in people with diabetes. This month, the British Medical Journal published research that suggests diabetics taking aspirin to prevent a first heart attack were no less likely to experience an attack than those taking a placebo. People with diabetes are at least twice as likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke as the general public.

10) Offer no protection to some sufferers of heart attack or stroke. A research review published in the British Medical Journal in January found that nearly 30 percent of people with cardiovascular disease who took prescribed aspirin were resistant to its effects. Such "aspirin resistance," the study found, makes such patients four times as likely as those for whom aspirin had an effect to have a heart attack, stroke, or die.

11) Cause stomach troubles. People taking aspirin or another NSAID are at higher risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach ulcers—particularly with long-term use of the drug.

12) Be less effective in women. This month, a research review published in the journal BMC Medicine found that earlier studies showed a large benefit in men taking aspirin to reduce the rates of fatal heart attack, but women did not reap the same benefit.

16 December 2008

Hollywood actor Omar Regan' s pilgrimmage

One of the millions of people making the pilgrimmage to Mecca was Omar Regan, a Hollywood actor who appeared as a double for Chris Tucker in the film Rush Hour 2. Al Jazeera's Sami Zeidan reports .

11 December 2008

Who is responsible for the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy?

Now the blaming game has started. Of course somebody has to take the blame. Will it be the former Selangor MBs Khir Toyo and Muhammad Taib, or the present MB Khalid Ibrahim or is it MPAJ?

Slope does not become unstable in the wink of an eye. When there is rainfall, water will find its way into the nearest water courses such as drains or streams and ultimately make its way into rivers and into the sea. Some will sip and percolate into the earth strata. When there is heavy downpour or intense rainfall, drains or streams may be choked up and this will eventually cause the water to swell and overflow. When this happens to hill slopes, the gushing water or runoffs will just overflow over the slopes and erode whatever it comes across . Simply said, over years, there is an increasing pore water pressure building up in the soil, which then caused an overburden in the soil slopes. A point may reach when the slope's soil becomes 'too heavy' and unstable and it no longer can hold its strength anymore, hence,  a slope failure occurs.

Why did the British, our colonial masters build the Klang gate dam in that area?. The simple reason is that it is a big natural catchment area receiving the highest rainfall in the Klang valley. Whoever lives there will tell you it rains cats and dogs when other places gets a drizzle.

As a practising Civil Engineer with 30 years handling slope stability problems, experience shows that almost any modification of a slope by people increases the risk of slope movement, especially in areas receiving high intensity rain. How unstable a slope depends on many environmental factors, so mitigation of slope failures can be complicated. Generally, vegetation can improve the stability of a slope because plant roots increase cohesion and plant leaves intercept rain drops that could otherwise decrease cohesion. Reducing rainfall runoff at the top of a slope and reinforcing the base of a slope can also improve stability. However, the mitigation of slope failures often needs to be prescribed on a case by case basis because every slope is unique.

In areas where slope failures are a hazard, the best solution is not to place any structures on or near a slope that has been determined to be unstable. In the Bukit Antarabangsa case, the slope failure occurs in area where there is vegetation, and no one notice that slope failure is imminent. That shows the slope has been weakening over time due to the failure of interceptor drains (if there are any) or frequent runoff or gushing heavy flows of water due to the clearing of areas on top of the slope due to the developments.

When the Highland Tower collapsed 15 years ago, it was a warning to the authorities to stop all hillside developments in that area. It fell on deaf ears. Muhammad Taib and Khir Toyo should be responsible for this tragedy. They were at the helm of the Selangor state in the last 15 years and development in that areas should have been banned after the Highland Tower tragedy.

Bukit Antarabangsa was once dub the Beverly Hills of the Klang Valley, and now it has become the Tragedy Hill.

I wonder if any of the UMNO delegates would be stupid enough to vote for Muhammad Taib and Khir Toyo in the coming UMNO elections. Would they reject a leader with bloods on their hands?

Nay. In UMNO, money talks and bullshit walks................

10 December 2008

Templer Park: Another disaster waiting to happen

A few years back, if you were traveling towards Rawang using the old Templer Park road, surely you will enjoy the green scenery and cool weather as you make your way up the hill before going downhill to Rawang.

Nowadays the scenery is tainted by developments which are encroaching into the forest reserve. Along the left and right side of the road around Templer Park, developments of high end housing schemes are being build to cater for the rich. These houses are build along terraces cut from the hills and some are sitting smack below the cut slopes.

Maybe those rich buyers have the prudence and wits to secure millions of Ringgit buying their dream homes, but they do not have the sanity, rationality and good judgement, as their million Ringgit property is situated directly below the 100 feet cut slopes. It is a time bomb and a disaster waiting to happen similar to the ones in Bukit Antarabangsa.

Why does the Authority, in this case Majlis Perbandaran Selayang allows such developments on hillsides?. Who was the power that approved the forest reserves around Templer Park to be turn into development lands? We want to know who approved the projects and whether it was done according to rules.

Will someone in charge please do your work before another disaster struck.

01 December 2008

Hip-Hop in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia!

Hip-hop music has become popular in the Arab world since a few years in places like Palestine, Lebanon and Morocco. But today, it is also a reality in the supposedly less flashy country of the whole area, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Qusay, a Saudi-born musician who has lived a few years in the USA before he came back to the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), is the leader of a band called The Legend of Jeddah. Their last CD has been an unexpected success.

Obviously, rap music in KSA does not come from the ghetto. Performing in places like the economic forum of Jeddah and adopted by the prestigious MTV Arabia, the Legend of Jeddah has nothing to do with "gangsta rap" music.

On the contrary, its clean hip-hop music can be seen as a perfect advertising for a modern KSA, far away from the clichés of islamic radicalism and moral rigor, something Qusay himself explains in great detail in his various interviews for the Arabic press.

Still, the Legend of Jeddah rappers make clear that things are changing in the KSA. For instance, their greatest hit, the Wedding, is a slightly ironic parody of the local traditions, with a wedding party which almost becomes postmodernist when Qusay starts singing, nicely mixing modern rhythms with traditional tunes.

Have a look at their 5’ minutes clip......

24 November 2008

Raja Melayu dan Fatwa Yoga

Sabtu lepas, Pengerusi Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan Pengerusi, Prof. Datuk Dr. Abdul Shukor Husin mengumumkan Majlis Muzakarah Kebangsaan (yang bersidang pada 22 hingga 24 Oktober di Kota Bharu) bersetuju memutuskan bahawa apa jua bentuk amalan yang mengandungi unsur-unsur Yoga adalah dilarang kerana bertentangan dengan Islam.

Semalam, Sultan Selangor berharap sebarang keputusan fatwa pada masa depan yang menyentuh isu melibatkan masyarakat umum sebaik-baiknya dirujuk kepada Majlis Raja-Raja untuk diperkenankan sebelum diumum, lapor Bernama.

Manakala, Pengarah Jabatan Agama Islam Perak telah menarik balik gesaan beliau agar rakyat Perak yang beragama Islam tidak mengamalkan Yoga kerana beliau telah mendapat tegoran daripada Sultan Perak yang mengatakan bahawa ia bukan bidang kuasanya.

Kedua-dua Sultan nampaknya kurang bersetuju dengan fatwa oleh Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan. Mereka mahukan fatwa tersebut dibincangkan terlebih dahulu dengan lebih teliti diperingkat Majlis Raja Raja.

Memang termaktub didalam perlembagaan bahawa adat istiadat Melayu dan hal ehwal agama Islam adalah dibawah naungan Sultan dan Raja-Raja Melayu, tetapi dengan mempersoalkan fatwa yang dibuat oleh ulamak ulamak didalam Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan ianya menampakkan ketidak-arifan mereka tentang agama Islam.

Ini adalah satu fenomena yang merbahaya kerana apabila Raja Raja Melayu telah mula mempersoalkan integriti dan kebijaksanaan Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan, maka hilanglah kredibiliti badan tersebut. Apabila kredibiliti hilang, maka kemanakah pegangan umat umat Islam di Malaysia apabila menghadapi kemelut dan persoalan agama di zaman moden ini?

Kita tabik Sultan-Sultan dan Raja-Raja Melayu kerana mereka adalah kubu terakhir yang akan mempertahankan ketuanan agama Islam di Negara kita ini, tetapi dengan mempersoalkan kebijaksanaan alim ulamak kita, lambat-laun rakyat akan hilang rasa hormat dan sokongan kepada Raja-Raja mereka.

Semuga ianya tidak akan berlaku.

23 November 2008

Shah Rukh Khan dan Ali Rustam Khan

Mungkin Ali Rustam ingin menjadi terkenal di Bollywood. Penganugerahan Datuk kepada Shah Rukh Khan kononnya akan memperkenalkan Melaka kepada dunia India. Ini semua kerja Ali Rustam dan Daim Zainuddin.

Tetapi malangnya mereka ini ditemplak oleh bintang Bollywood itu. Apa ada pada gelaran Datuk Melaka? Jikalau diMalaysia mungkin kita terhegeh-hegeh apabila berjumpa dengan Datuk. Tetapi orang luar tak kesah dengan gelaran Datuk kita.

Pergilah Datuk naik kapal terbang British Airways, jauh panggang dari api jikalau peramugari orang putih tu nak bahasakan kita dengan panggilan Datuk. Bahasa yang biasa digunakan adalah 'Sir' kepada semua orang.

Kalau Ali Rustam betul bersungguh-sungguh untuk memberi penganugerahan kepada Shah Rukh Khan, cuba cari beliau ke tempat pengembaraan pelakon itu, terutamanya di India. Kemungkinan pemberian darjah boleh dibuat dibawah pokok semasa pelakon itu sedang berihat (itu pun kalau bodyguard beliau membenarkan).

Caranya serupa macamana Abby mencari Norman Hakim diset pengembaraan, dimana pemberita pemberita disuruh ikut sama! Rancangan ini mungkin berkubur kerana ada kemungkinan Yang diPertua Negeri Melaka tidak akan bersetuju. Walaubagaimana mereka semua boleh pergi ke Bollywood melancung dan ber-shopping dengan tajaan rakyat Melaka!

Tidak masuk akal ide pemberian Datuk kepada Shah Rukh Khan. Janganlah Ali Rustam dan gang memperkecilkan satu darjah yang tinggi nilainya disisi rakyat Malaysia dengan menganugerahkannya kepada orang yang tidak berhak. Ramai lagi rakyat Malaysia yang telah berjasa kepada negara yang lebih berhak. Fikir-fikirkan lah............

22 November 2008

Tale of the two Princes

It is a good bedside reading if you are an insomniac. This report from rockybru,  the malaysian insider and big dog dot com.

This is another reason why we love our royalties. They are full of scandals, juicy gossips, glitter and glamour lifes which are so entertaining to us mortals. 

It is not easy to keep scandalous stories about royalties from the public realm.  It is important that our royalty be the steady beacon in the flotsam and jetsam of general trivia. If our Prince and Princess cannot toe the line, they should be packed off to Darfur or Somalia to do forced charitable works. Hopefully they will learn a thing or two about life.

Another royalty, Prince William is in the news recently. See for yourself. Click here.

21 November 2008

Barah dalam Wanita UMNO bertambah teruk

Ramai penyokong UMNO maupun yang anti-UMNO sedang mengikuti perkembangan pilihan raya UMNO yang akan datang dengan penuh minat. Mahu tak mahu, terpaksa juga kita mengikut perkembangan parti tersebut kerana, secara langsung dan tak langsung, sesiapa yang dilantik kejawatan tertinggi UMNO, akan juga dilantik sebagai pemimpin negara kita ini. Polisi polisi mereka dan ala tuju negara pula akan menjejaskan kehidupan kita semua nanti. Bohonglah sesiapa yang mengaku tidak mengikut perkembangan dan pergolakkan terkini didalam UMNO sekarang.

Yang paling mengejutkan sekarang ialah pertandingan Kak Pidah dan Kak Jat. Walaupun perjanjian telah dibuat, 'Ladies agreement' agar tiada pertandingan untuk Ketua Wanita, nampaknya mereka dah campak kesemua agreement tersebut kedalam tong sampah. Ini berlainan sekali dengan 'Gentleman's agreement' antara Pak Lah dan Najib. Begitulah orang-orang perempuan UMNO yang susah memegang kepada janji!

Tetapi apakah hikmah Kak Pidah yang masih ingin bertarung walaupun telah berjanji untuk menyerahkan pucuk pimpinan Wanita UMNO pada pertengahan 2009? Kak Kamilia pula bermain peranan sebagai 'spoiler' untuk menghambat Kak Jat berlawan dengan Kak Pidah. Kak Pidah pula menyatakan bahawa beliau akan terus memegang jawatan Ketua Wanita UMNO jika menang pertandingan ini untuk tiga tahun lagi! Ini bermakna keinginan beliau untuk berundur memberi laluan kepada orang lain hanya tinggal cakap-cakap sahaja! Ianya tidak beza dengan cakap-cakap Sami Vellu yang kita selalu dengar acap kali.

Sebenarnya tidak ada orang yang boleh menggantikannya dan mempunyai kaliber saperti Kak Pidah untuk menjadi Menteri MITI. Apabila Najib mengambil alih pemerintahan dari Pak Lah nanti, Najib akan ketandusan Menteri yang berkaliber. Menteri-Menteri senior yang ada sekarang semuanya menunggu dipencenkan sahaja dan kehadiran mereka sekarang didalam Kabinet langsung tidak memberi faedah kepada Negara. Najib memerlukan Menteri Menteri muda, yang dinamik dan yang mempunyai kecerdikan untuk membawa perubahan, ide-ide baru untuk membawa kejayaan kepada Kementerian kementerian yang mereka pimpin. Menteri Menteri yang ada sekarang adalah legasi Mahathir dan Pak Lah, dan mereka boleh dianggap saperti kuda tua yang perlu ditidurkan terus.

Keputusan Kak Pidah untuk melawan Kak Jat adalah dengan harapan beliau akan menang, dan terus memimpin Wanita UMNO untuk sepenggal lagi dan seterusnya dilantik semula sebagai Menteri MITI. Itu adalah perancangan Najib untuk mengisi jawatan Menteri berkaliber kerana semasa zaman Mahathir, Kak Pidah telah memainkan peranan yang besar untuk membawa banyak FDI ke-Negara kita ini, walaupun banyak skandal berkenaan permit AP disabitkan dengan beliau.

Kes kes tersebut telah dilupakan kerana mengenangkan jasa jasa Kak Pidah kepada Negara! Kalau Kak Pidah kalah, habislah riwayat beliau dan dia boleh berihat bermain dengan cucu. Jikalau Kak Jat tumpas, dia akan bekerja sebagai  lawyer buruk semula. Kedua-dua senario itu akan menjadikan penyakit barah UMNO bertambah parah lagi.

Kita tunggu dan lihat.

No Friday Prayers for Muslim ISA detainees!

"Solat Jumaat memang tidak diizinkan pada tahanan ISA. Jangan bagi alasan untuk mempertikaikannya."

"Saya bukan nak tuduh tapi saya nak tanya, berapa kali dia (Raja Petra) sembahyang Jumaat selama ini," kata Zahid pada sidang media ketika melawat ke Institut Penyelidikan Produk Halal di Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) di sini, hari ini.

I am perplexed by this arrogant statement by our Minister in-charge of religious matter in Malaysia. If RPK did not pray his Jumaat prayers, then it is an issue between him and Allah but if there is a standing instruction prohibiting ISA detainees in Kamunting from performing their Friday prayers, then i think the Minister is 'playing' God.

Is the Minister saying that ISA law is more supreme than God's law? Friday prayers is a congregational prayer performed on Friday which replaces the dhuhr prayer. It is 'wajib' upon Muslim men to perform it in congregation. Is the Minister issuing a decree or fatwa that Muslim ISA detainees do not need to perform the Friday prayers?

If bringing the Muslim ISA detainees outside Kamunting Camp to the nearby mosque to perform the Friday prayers will become a security issue, then why can't they issue a decree converting the internal Kamunting camp surau as a mosque so that the ISA detainees can perform their obligatory Friday prayers there? Our Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan have issued many decrees, especially on petty things like Pengkid and Tomboys, then why not on this?

What say our Muftis and Ulamak?
 'Takutlah balasan dan azab Allah nanti.'

10 November 2008

Pak Lah and the sleeping syndrome

Before things get worst, he did the right decision to quit March 2009. Maybe Jeanne has been pampering him too much as he is always sleeping on the job.

Kesian Pak Lah...........


08 November 2008

Is Barack Hussein Obama a Muslim?

No proof is offered by those who make the claims that he is a muslim -- no sightings of Barack Obama attending a mosque, no pictures of him reading the Koran, praying to Mecca, or observing Islamic holidays with his family. The entire case, such as it is, rests on a confused and error-ridden recitation of Obama's upbringing and purported childhood influences. It also rests on -- or exploits -- a deep fear and mistrust of the Muslim faith.

Virtually everything we do know about Obama's parentage and upbringing, it should be stipulated, comes from the senator himself. Obama told the story of his search to uncover his African heritage in Dreams from My Father (Three Rivers Press, 2004), and shared further autobiographical details in The Audacity of Hope (Crown Publishers, 2006). He spoke at length about his Christian beliefs in a 2004 Chicago Sun Times interview with Cathleen Falsani. Must we take his word for all of it? Not necessarily. But in the absence of contrary evidence we have no reason to doubt Obama's own candid account of his life story.

Was Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a "radical Muslim who migrated from Kenya to Jakarta, Indonesia?"

No. Though Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was raised a Muslim, he had lost his faith and become a "confirmed atheist" by the time he attended college, according to his son. Obama's parents separated when Barack was two, his father moving not to Jakarta, but to the United States, where he attended Harvard. Eventually he returned to Kenya.

Did Obama's mother go on to marry another Muslim named Lolo Soetoro who "educated his stepson as a good Muslim by enrolling him in one of Jakarta's Wahabbi schools?"

Yes and no. When Obama's mother remarried, it was indeed to an Indonesian man named Lolo Soetoro, whom his stepson describes as a "non-practicing" Muslim. But it was his "secular" mother who supervised his education, Obama has written, sending him to both Catholic and Muslim primary schools after the family moved to Jakarta. There is nothing on record to indicate Obama attended a madrassa (Muslim religious school) run by Wahabbists, and in any case it's unlikely his mother would have chosen to expose him to such an extreme form of Islam given her stated abhorrence of religious closed-mindedness and her stated goal of giving him a well-rounded education, including in matters of faith.

(Update: CNN has tracked down the school in question, the Basuki School in Jakarta, which a deputy headmaster described as a "public school" with no particular religious agenda. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment," he told CNN. A classmate of Obama's described the school as "general," with students of many religious backgrounds attending. Obama entered the school at the age of 8 and attended for two years.)

Is it true that "Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim while admitting that he was once a Muslim?"

In Obama's two books and sundry news interviews, the senator has never mentioned being a Muslim at any point in his life. Yes, he lived in a Muslim country during part of his childhood and briefly attended a Muslim school there, but he certainly wasn't raised a Muslim and has never been a Muslim.

That anyone, let alone a sitting U.S. senator with designs on the highest office in the land, would conceal being a Muslim for twenty-odd years while going through the outward motions of practicing Christianity (or vice-versa, for that matter) is a bizarre accusation.

Is it true that when Obama was sworn into office he used the Koran (Qur'an) instead of the Bible?

No. Barack Obama placed his hand on his personal Bible during his Senate swearing-in ceremony, which was conducted by Vice-President Dick Cheney. Those making this allegation have apparently confused Obama with Congressman Keith Ellison, who actually is a Muslim and was sworn in on January 4, 2007 using a copy of the Quran.

07 November 2008

Why Obama won?

This is a simplistic view on why Obama won.

1. The two wars.

Americans were fed up with Bush as a war monger. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan does not show any signs of ending. Body bags of young Americans killed in the two wars are regularly shipped back to America while Bush still insist that the US Military presence is needed there, without specifying any withdrawal date. John McCain has the same foreign policy as Bush while the threat of another two wars with Syria and Iran are looming. Barack Obama has specified 2010 for US military withdrawal from Iraq. He prefers dialog with Iran and Syria rather than gunboat diplomacy.

2.John McCain’s age.

It turned out that this factor trumped race. John Sidney McCain would have been the oldest person ever elected to a first term as President. Many voters were simply not comfortable with the prospect of their President being 72 years old. Barrack Obama is 47 years young. John F Kennedy was only 43 years old when he was elected US President.

3.The global world economic crisis.

Neither McCain, nor Obama had done much of anything to cause the problems in the housing and mortgage banking sectors that froze up credit around the world, sunk banks, and wreaked havoc with stock prices; yet this development altered the dynamic of the election almost overnight. Many believe that the financial crisis was brought about by Bush's economic policy and Republicans supported his handling (or mishandling) of the problems. Obama pounce on this issue by using the battle cry 'Change, Yes we can'. Once that concept took root, the great election of 2008 was essentially over, except for the counting of the votes. Obama should thank Mahathir for this battle cry "Yes We Can" - "Malaysia Boleh"

4.Barack Obama's charisma and magic appeal.

Obama has John F Kennedy's charisma, Ronald Reagan's optimism, Clinton's gift of the gab and Mahathir's steely determination. Obama also appears to be an utterly devoted family man, voters still want that in the wake of the Clinton years, while offering the most untraditional résumé and family background ever had in a president. In the end, the biracial aspect of his candidacy appealed not just to African American voters but also to tens of millions of socially liberal whites, Latinos, immigrants, and young people. Obama is handsome and likeable, and a natural orator. He put together a superb campaign organization, and he never once lost his cool.

5.The Bush and Republican factor.

George W. Bush was largely unpopular.Bush has been president and head of the Republican Party for the past eight years, and his job approval rating hovers just below 30 percent. This number puts him in the company of the likes of Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter in their waning days in office. The White House switched parties after they left office. McCain’s own problems ran even deeper. The single policy that hurt Bush’s standing the most was the decision to invade and occupy Iraq. McCain championed this course of action himself, and did so throughout the campaign. Other factors eroded Republican standing as well. They included the perception that the Republican Congress had run up huge federal budget deficits, and to enrich their own political coffers, sometimes enriching their own private bank accounts, on the backs of the greater public good.

6.The Debate.

In all three of the presidential debates, Obama was so even keel, you felt like you had to take his pulse. The guy was simply unflappable and cool. McCain could not rattle him. Obama showed himself to be very presidential in those three debates by remaining calm, talking sensibly and smiling. He conveyed hope, optimism and a steady influence. McCain tried to do the same but it felt forced and negative. Once again, Americans were able to compare and contrast and they liked what they saw in Obama.

Hail to Judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad

Malaysians hail Judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad for releasing RPK today. This shows that there are still many decent judges in this country and they can make independent decisions. We hope this is a start for better things to come.

Judges must uphold justice and they must be responsible for whatever decisions they make, as one day they will be answerable to the Almighty. The ISA is unislamic and our Majlis Fatwa Kebangsaan should make a ruling on it. This is a more important and pressing issue rather than they dabble on the issues of yoga, tomboy, pengkid and other petty things. Will our Muftis be bold enough to stand up to this heinous law? Can any decent man stomach this wicked law that holds a man in jail without trial?

After two decades of judicial darkness, we hope this will be the illuminating ember that will light up the gloom of our judiciary.

Change in America, will there be change in Malaysia?

When Abdullah Badawi took power from Mahathir, the rakyat was in a joyous mood then. After 22 years of Mahathir's dictatorial rule, for once there was a gleam of hope when Abdullah Badawi came to power. BN won with a record number of seats in Parliament because he promised changes and reforms.

After 4 years, he was a massive disappointment, as nothing has changed and all were empty promises. The resentment led to the deprivation of Barisan National two-thirds majority in Parliament and a dagger threat hanging over the government with a power grab by Pakatan Rakyat.

Abdullah Badawi has failed to reform the goverment and civil service, he has failed to reform the police and the judiciary, he has failed to reform the media and the economy and he has failed to reform all the unjust laws.

Money politics has reared it's ugly head again and it seems those dabbling with money politics will be elected as UMNO's top guns and ultimately they will be our leaders. Nothing has changed so far.

There is a big change in the USA when Obama becomes President but will there be any change in Malaysia now?

Anwar has gone quiet! and Najib is stuck with so many issues, of murky murders and corruptions, and a barrage of other allegations. Our economy will be battered in the coming months when the turbulence of US economic downturn hit our shores.

We pray that the changes in the foreseeable future won't be for the worst. Anwar should forget about his role as PM-in-Waiting. He should play an effective role as head of the opposition and be the 'checks and balances' to the present government.

Those in power and the opposition has been playing politics for so long and we do not have good governance so far. The country has been in auto mode when Abdullah Badawi took over.

We hope Najib will have the wisdom, understanding and strength to lead Malaysia next year and hopefully Malaysia will have good governance for years to come.

06 November 2008

More obama's photos

Barack Obama with Kenyan relatives.


A snapshot of President elect Barack Obama’s parents Barack Obama Sr. and Ann Dunham.His parents met in 1960 while attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where his father was a foreign student and married on February 2, 1961. They separated when Obama was two years old.


President Elect Barack Obama with his maternal grandparents Stanley and Madelyn Dunham.Madelyn Dunham died of canceR on November 3, 2008.


Obama has seven half-siblings from his Kenyan father’s family, six of them living, and a half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, the daughter of his mother and her Indonesian second husband.


This picture shows presidential elect, Obama, 9, right, with his mother Ann Dunham, center, his Indonesian step-father Lolo Soetoro, and his less than one-year-old half-sister Maya Soetoro in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Barack and wife Michelle with their daughters in 2004.
Barack and Michelle with a two-year-old Malia.

Obama - photos you have to see

Barack Obama's biological father, Barack Obama, Sr.
Barack Obama's biological father, Barack Obama, Sr.

(Barack Obama, Sr. was from Kenya.)

Barack Obama's biological father, Barack Obama, Sr.
Barack Obama's biological father, Barack Obama, Sr.

Barack Obama's biological mother, Ann Dunham
Barack Obama's biological mother, Ann Dunham
holding a very young Barack Obama

(Ann Dunham was from Kansas.)

Barack Obama's stepfather Lolo Soetoro
Barack Obama's stepfather Lolo Soetoro; biological mother Ann Dunham;
and half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng

(Ann Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, from Indonesia, after she and Barack Sr. were divorced. Barack lived with his stepfather and mother in Indonesia from age 6 - 10.)

Barack Obama's Grandparents
Barack Obama's Grandparents

(When Barack returned to Hawaii at age 10, he lived with his grandparents. )






America Boleh! . Barrack Obama's victory speech.

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008, Chicago, Illinois: Text of President-elect Barack Obama's victory speech in Chicago on Tuesday, as released by his campaign:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

Text of Obama's victory speech

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

29 October 2008

Saei Safa Marwah-some recent pics

Picture was taken on the 23rd of Ramadan 2008. Although it was the fasting time, hundred thousands of people can be seen doing the Umrah. The final league of the Umrah is a 3.5 km walk from Safa to Marwah. In normal times, one can walk 3.5 km leisurely within one hour, but when one walks with thousands of 'buddies' within a confine area during fasting time, the walk becomes very tough and a big test for one's iman and perseverance.

As can be seen from the picture, people from all walks of life, the men wearing two pieces of white cloth, walks shoulder to shoulder, praising and making dua' to Allah during the one hour journey.

The 'original' saei on the ground floor has been widen to double its capacity from the original size. Work is still going on to widen the upper floors. I foresee the work can be completed next year as workers are doing the final touches.

One has to timed correctly when doing the Umrah as not to accidentally joining into the peak crowd. The best time is after the Suboh prayers or before mid afternoon. I have timed myself doing the Saei on the top floor when it was not so crowded. For a one way Safa/Marwah or Marwah/Safa, a brisk walk is about 4 minutes. So for seven circuit, one can complete the Saei within 30 minutes.

25 October 2008

The Masjidil Haram Expansion - Jabal Omar Project

A Malaysian company (PSDC & KLCC) is the Project Manager for the development of Jabal Omar.

The construction of Makkah’s Jabal Omar project will be completed within 30 months, and the plan includes a number of residential towers and 40 hotels.

The SR12 billion project is located in a mountainous area close to the Grand Mosque. The towers will accommodate 34,500 pilgrims and the project is being developed in areas around the Grand Mosque.

It will create a model residential and commercial center with new roads, pathways, tunnels, electric stairs, and other facilities.

The project will create prayer areas for 78,000 worshipers and will be linked to the Grand Mosque’s sound system.These prayer areas would be considered an indirect expansion of the mosque.

The project has taken into consideration the environment and the topography of the area.

The groundbreaking for the second largest project after the Haram expansion was started two years ago.

Jabal Omar company is also studying tenders from various top class hotel companies such as Sheraton and Move & Pick to manage some of the residential and hotel towers being built as part of the project.

More than 200 hotels have been demolished in order to implement the Jabal Omar project.

The project would also build a mosque to accommodate 10,000 worshippers and also a conference hall overlooking the Grand Mosque with a seating capacity for 2,000 people.
Projek ini, termasuk perluasan dari utara halaman masjid hingga pembangunan perumahan menara, bertujuan untuk menyediakan lebih banyak perumahan dan kemudahan untuk penziarah. Projek ini juga termasuk SR12 bilion menara Jabal Omar, salah satu usaha yang terbesar yang bertujuan untuk pengembangan daerah sekitar Tanah Suci Haram. Dengan keluasan 230,000 meter persegi, ia juga termasuk projek hotel bintang lima, pusat komersial dan kemudahan untuk 200,000 penziarah.

Projek-projek lain ialah pembesaran Hospital Ajyad, yang terletak berhampiran masjid, dan pembangunan jalan lain untuk ke Tanah Suci Haram sejajar dengan jalan yang ada dari Jeddah-Makkah. Jalan baru 5km, dirancang juga untuk manafaat penziarah.Makkah Development Authority juga mengendalikan pembangunan Shamiya, Jabal Khandama dan Jabal Al-Kaaba daerah di sekitar Haram.

Projek ini juga bertujuan untuk mengembangkan daerah di wilayah pusat kota suci dan merobohkan bangunan tua dan usang yang tidak selamat lagi.. Mereka juga akan menyediakan sistem pengangkutan yang selesa bagi mengurangi kesibukan lalu lintas di kota tersebut.

Jumlah keseluruhan keluasan untuk dibangunkan di dianggarkan 587,250 meter persegi, dengan 90 % bangunan yang lama. Perluasan dari utara halaman mesjid itu sendiri akan mencakupi luas 1.2 juta meter persegi antara kedua masjid dan jalan lingkar ke utara, Jalan Masjid Al-Haram ke timur dan Jalan Jabal Al-Kaaba ke barat.

Projek Jabal Omar akan menyediakan lebih dari 25,000 pekerjaan. Jabal Omar menawarkan kemudahan perumahan bagi 100,000 orang, tempat wuduk berhawa dingin untuk 100,000 dan ruang terbuka sembahyang untuk 120,000.

Syarikat Jabal Omar akan memiliki modal SR3.5 bilion termasuk SR1.1 bilion sebagai sebahagian dari pemilik real estate di daerah itu. Sebahagian dari saham bernilai SR850 juta akan ditawarkan sebagai langganan awam.

Jalan baru akan dibina dengan 1,000 meter terowong dan akan melalui daerah Mawarika, Tandbawe, Jabal Ghurab, Rusaifa dan Zahareen.

Adalah dijangkakan 50 tahun untuk rancangan pembangunan untuk Makkah disiapkan oleh Makkah Development Authority .

Panggilan Kaabah

Hanya tinggal satu dataran dihadapan Hilton untuk menampung jemaah yang ingin bersolat diluar Masjid. Sebelum ini dataran yang paling besar dihadapan New Safa Hotel telah dipecahkan kerana termasuk didalam projek Jabal Omar, iaitu rancangan pembesaran Mesjidil haram.Jemaah terpaksa datang awal ke Masjid jikalau tidak ingin bersesak sesak.

Foto diambil semasa jemaah menunggu iftar diluar Masjid.

Oleh kerana kesesakan di Masjid, jikalau anda datang lewat, mana mana tempat kosong sudah memadai untuk bersolat. Kelihatan beberapa jemaah bersolat dikaki tangga Masjid.Dengan tempat sebegitu kecil, anda terpaksa belajar mengimbangi diri semasa bersolat.

Foto diambil pada jam 1.29 pm waktu Mekah (6.29pm waktu Malaysia). Walaupun matahari terik, masih terdapat 'diehard' melaksanakan tawaf walaupun suhu menjangkau 50'c. Kelihatan kawasan Kaabah kosong, sebenarnya tidak ramai yang boleh bertahan dicuaca sepanas itu.Rasanya saperti tinggal didalam sauna!

Lambakkan tikar sembahyang menandakan tempat tersebut telah di'booking' oleh setengah jemaah.Tidak siapa berani duduk disitu, untuk mengelakkan perbalahan, kerana tuannya akan datang untuk menuntut tempatnya nanti.

Kaum Wanita ramai bersolat didataran Masjid Nabawi kerana malas masuk kedalam Mesjid diwaktu malam. Bersolat dibelakang imam akan memperolehi pahala yang lebih besar, dan kita akan berebut rebut kedepan jika kita nampak pahalanya!

Kaum lelaki bersolat disebelah kanan dataran Masjid Nabawi.

Hanya diTanah suci Mekah dan Madinah kita dapat lihat manusia berebut rebut untuk bersolat kepada Allah.