Friday, July 30, 2010

Bolstering and Breeding Bigotry in Bolehland

Bolstering and Breeding Bigotry in Bolehland

Bolstering and Breeding Bigotry in Bolehland

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 11:03 AM PDT

The light, lenient, ludicrous and laughable court sentences on the cow-head protestors lend credence to the growing belief that Umno lives and lasts on bigotry

Martin Jalleh

On 28 August last year, more than 50 people, shortly after their Friday prayers, marched from the Selangor state mosque in Shah Alam to the Selangor State Secretariat to protest the relocation of a 150-year old Hindu temple to their neighbourhood.

Amidst strong chants of "Allahuakbar!" they dragged and paraded the severed and bloodied head of a cow. One of their leaders shouted "I guarantee bloodshed and racial tension (if the temple relocation takes place)".

Some of them made fiery speeches, spat on the severed cow's head, kicked it, stomped on it, dumped it in front of the gates of the State Secretariat and proudly posed for photos, as police stood stoically, silently and submissively by.

Malaysian Hindus (who consider the cow a sacred animal) protested vehemently and called it a "sacrilegious act". Other non-Muslims described it as "sickening" and "scandalous". Many Muslims in the country considered it "shameless" and "so un-Islamic".

A Muslim wrote: "These hooligans don't represent all of us". Another added: "As a Muslim, I am ashamed at the behaviour of these hoodlums especially during the holy month of Ramadhan. I really wonder who the head honchos are behind this unscrupulous act."

The world watched in shock at how such a provocative act, or as some would later call it "barbaric behaviour" could have taken place in Malaysia – a country which its government boasts of as being a supposed showcase of a multi-racial-religious society today!

Hishammuddin's Hypocrisy

In spite of a nationwide outcry and the lodging of 98 police reports against the cow-head protestors, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein who often hypes about racial and religious harmony decided to hijack the role of the police, Attorney-General (AG) and even the judiciary.

He went out of the way to meet in his office with the protestors – thevery people who had committed what was clearly a seditious and sacrilegious act. He even daftly declared them innocent, defended their actions and deemed legal action against them as unnecessary.

According to him, the protestors were the ones who were "victimised". They had no intention to stir racial emotion! It was not the first time an animal head had been used in a protest! The police allowed them to proceed because the numbers of protestors were small. Hishammuddin humoured the whole nation!

So desperate was he to justify the heinous act that he would even declare: "In this day and age, protests should be accepted in this world, as people want their voices to be heard. If we don't give them room to voice their opinions, they have no choice but to protest."

Hishammuddin's hypocrisy could not hold when, about a week afterthe cow-head protest, police arrested 16 Hindraf leaders who were in the midst of holding a peaceful candlelight vigil to voice their strong protest against the sacrilegious act in Shah Alam.

(According to Lim Kit Siang, Hishammuddin's "obsession to defend the Umno role in the cow-head demonstration" was "to further the Umno/BN agenda to weaken and topple the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor State Government".)

In comparison, the PM very dramatically said he was deeply disturbed by the despicable act, demanded that the issue be nipped in the bud and directed the IGP to act swiftly and sternly. It is 11 months since the incident and the Shah Alam Sessions Court delivered its judgment on the matter on 28 July 2010.

Pathetic Patail

The Court fined 12 cow-head protestors RM1,000 each after they pleaded guilty to an alternative charge of taking part in an illegal assembly. Two of the protestors were fined RM3,000 for sedition while one of the two was also ordered to serve a week in jail.

The actions of the cow-head protestors as so accurately described by Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, were "extreme and provocative". Very naturally the public had expected stiff, stern and severe court sentences that would stop the country from sliding further down the slippery slope of religious extremism.

Sadly the sentences defied all logic. They were glaringly light, lenient and ludicrous. They made the AG's Chambers, the judiciary and the government laughable. Once again the loud and oft-dramatic resolve by the powers-that-be to check extremism by Muslim groups have proven to be only lip service.

A fine of a paltry sum of RM1,000 to RM3,000, a preposterous jail sentence of only a week for one of the protestors – such pathetic punishment for outright religious bigotry can only come from a predictable judiciary ready to please and pander to the wishes of its political masters.

"I hope in future the accused will all be more sensitive in their actions. It is also hoped that this sentence will serve as a deterrent to others in future," the words of judge Hasbi Hasan rang hollow in the court as the guilty heaved a sigh of relief – devoid of any sense of remorse.

For taking part in such a diabolical act of desecration which could have triggered off serious racial and religious disturbances, four of the protestors who had maintained their innocence and were supposed to go through separate trials, were discharged – after AG Gani Patail decided not to press further charges!

The gravity of the offence warranted a stringent and not a farcical deterrent sentence. The implications of the offence to worsening race and religious relations were very grave. But the AG was not at all serious in sending out a clear message that such offences will not be tolerated. Neither was the Court!

It did not seem to matter to the AG that the public could see through the "big show" of toughness put up by his Chambers and the Court. Such a charade reduced the PM's initial proclamations of swift and severe action to mere pious pronouncements and pretentious promises meant to placate public anger.

Further, one is prompted to ask would the Court sentences be the same if a group of Hindus were to spit and stomp on the Holy Quran and left it outside the gates of the Selangor State Secretariat? Would they be discharged due to their insistence of being innocent?

Ramon Navaratnam, chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Studies puts this succinctly: "I would say this warrants the maximum sentence, if not, much higher than that…Frankly, the public would be asking would the sentence commensurate with the crime if it was other ethnic groups involved."

P. Uthayakumar, Human Rights party secretary-general was more blunt: "I urge the attorney-general to appeal against the Sessions Court's sentence and further prosecute them (the four perpetrators) under Section 298(A) as I believe this clause would have been used if it were the Muslims who were offended instead."

(Commenting on the ongoing hearing of three Muslim youth charged for fire-bombing a church, lawyer Annou Xavier wrote in an e-mail that little is to be expected of the outcome of the trail as the (ill-prepared and inexperienced) prosecution team has demonstrated little regard to the seriousness of the case). )

Breeding bigotry

The cow-head protest should come as no surprise. It is the logical consequence and culmination of years of the authorities closing an eye and sometimes both, to the provocative and extreme acts of Muslim groups, whilst putting up a facade of a thorough investigation and taking fair and firm action.

Five months later, in the aftermath of a landmark ruling by the Kuala Lumpur High Court which ordered the lifting of the Home Minister's ban on the Catholic church publishing the word "Allah" in its weekly paper, Herald, arson attacks, vandalism and other incidents took place in 11 churches and a Sikh temple.

What gives extremist Muslim groups the audacity to insult other faiths, incite religious hatred, and be so intolerant and insensitive to non-Muslims? Perhaps it has to do with them being very confident that they can display their insolence with impunity. They are well-provided and protected and their fines may even be paid – by Umno.

Umno is in a desperate state. In spite of its many claims of having changed, it continues with its political culture of divide and rule and of a siege mentality by politicising religion and creating unfounded insecurities amongst Muslims and a distrust of other religions.

Very ironically and tragically it appears that Umno can only unite the Malays and Muslims by dividing the country! The party that harps on supremacy and superiority whether it is with regard to race or religion, at the same time claims that Muslims can be very easily confused, convinced and converted!

Umno thrives on bigotry. It survives on religious extremism, fanaticism and fanning fears and fantasising enemies! Its members and all Muslims in the country are made to believe that they must stamp their superiority over the rest, and this is made all the more easier by Executive Supremacy!

According to Umno's brand of Islam, the Malay/Muslim majority in this country must dominate, dictate, decide and even define what the minority (non-Muslims) can and cannot do; discuss, deliberate and debate on in public; and display in print.

The saddest outcome of the cow-head protest is that we have accepted the distinction between "Muslim and non-Muslim dominated areas". Yet, there was a time when Bolehland's citisens of diverse races and religions so successfully and confidently co-existed and lived together side by side in mutual respect and admiration!

After being PM for 15 months, Najib has failed to fight the fires of religious fanaticism, aggressively fanned by his own party. He takes flight and hides behind his 1Malaysia slogan – a faltering fa├žade and flop which makes him look so utterly foolish! 1 Malaysia has become one big joke!

The inadequate sentences of the cow-head protestors make it very clear that burgeoning bigotry will continue to rear its ugly head inBolehland as long as the Umnoputras rule Putrajaya. May Allah (oops, did I convert anyone) help us!

30 July 2010

Cenotaph at George Town's Esplanade

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 11:13 AM PDT

It's easy to forget that Penang has its fair share of war memorials. There are two: the first is actually an "anti-war" obelisk erected at the Ayer Itam roundabout by the Chinese in Penang to commemorate the atrocities suffered at the hands of the Japanese invaders during the Second World War and the second memorial is by the waterfront in George Town.

One cannot miss this latter memorial, also known as the Cenotaph here. It lies directly ahead if one walks down Esplanade Road from the direction of Light Street.

The foundation stone of the memorial was laid by the then Resident Councillor of Penang, Captain Meadows Frost, on 11 Nov 1928 which coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Armistice. A Penang War Memorial Fund was started prior to the memorial's construction and $7,000 was collected. By the time of its completion, the cost had ballooned to $12,000 - a substantial amount of money in those days - owing to ornamental parts being ordered from England. The unveiling of the memorial was supposed to be made on 4 Aug 1929, the 15th anniversary of the declaration of the First World War, but because of delays it was only unveiled officially on 11 Nov 1929.

The memorial, designed by architect David McLeod Craik, was built entirely of Penang granite. It consisted of an oblong Cenotaph of seven feet by nine feet by 20 feet high rising from a peristyle 20 feet by 16 feet approached by five granite steps three feet high flanked at the corners by four plain pedestals, the total height of the monument being 24 feet and the base being 35 feet by 30 feet. A striking feature of the memorial were the bronze ornaments consisting of a sword and laurel wreath in a niche. At the four cornerstones were the badges of the British Navy, Army, Air Force and Mercantile Marine.

War memorials are common sights in many British Empire cities and towns as they were built to commemorate British and local losses during the wars. The Cenotaph in George Town was meant to remember those who had died during the First World War, thus can be seen engraved in the granite "1914-1918".


That's almost a century ago. No one living today in Penang can possibly remember anything about this "Great War" and the purpose of the Cenotaph risks being consigned to history and forgotten. To keep the memorial relevant to today's Malaysians, there is now a smaller adjacent memorial to commemorate those who fell in World War Two 1939-1945, the Siam-Burma Death Railway 1942-1945, the Malayan Emergency 1948-1960, Indonesian Confrontation 1963-1966 and the Reinsurgency 1968-1990.

abolish ISA candlelight vigil in 8 states on 1 aug.

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 10:17 AM PDT

reference to my earlier post 'abolish ISA! no need to amend!' (the banner on the picture left said that – in bahasa), here are the updated announcement of 8 states confirmed to hold the vigil simultaneously on sunday. 1 august.

  • Dataran MBPJ, Padang Timur in Petaling Jaya (8.oopm)

  • Speaker's Square, Penang (9.00pm)

  • Dataran Bandaraya Ipoh (8.oopm)

  • Dataran Zero KM, Sungai Petani (8.oopm)

  • Taman Hijau, Jalan Sultanah Zainab, Kota Bharu (8.oopm)

  • Pusat Tanah Wang, Jalan Perdada, Sibu (8.oopm)

  • Bangunan Al Idrus Commercial Centre, Kuching (8.00pm)

  • Front Entrance of 1 Borneo Hypermall, Kota Kinabalu (1.00pm)

don't forget to go and attend if you are in any of the above towns, ok? this year marks the 50th anniversary of ISA existence. the ISA was formed in 1960 during the first prime minister (tunku abdul rahman) time. 50 years ago, mind you. so you can imagine how out-dated it should be, especially when as years went by, it became so draconian.

saya anak bangsa malaysia said:

We demand the Government of Malaysia to Abolish the ISA as soon as possible as the barbaric and unlawful Act has existed in Malaysia for 50 years. The ISA is draconian and most importantly, it is against fundamental human rights.

Please join us together to fight the ISA and all other detention without trial laws! Together We CAN Bring CHANGE!

rightly so! together if we speak up against the draconian act again and again, we hope to bring change one day.  come for the candlelight vigil to show your support. don't be like someone who, on seeing me wearing the anti ISA badge,  said to me "aiya. the ISA ah. let the politicians fight over it. why do you want to fight?" i should have answer him the politicians will fight for their own pockets only. haha. anyway, frankly, of course there are  several politicians who are against ISA too but we can't leave everything to the politicians.  to get things moving, usually it depends on people's power, don't you agree??  so come one, come all, to join in the protest on 1 aug.  penangites, don't worry about the police or SB – we have the speakers square where the public is allowed to speak all they want without fear of harassment from the police (hopefully!).


Malaysia Today or Malaysiakini

Abolish ISA candlelight vigils in 8 states

The Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) and rights group Suaram aim to hold simultaneous candlelight vigils against the abhorred law in eight states around the country on Sunday.

The protest will be held as an effort to pressure Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to repeal the Internal Security Act.

Aug 1 marks the 50th anniversary of the draconian act, which was introduced by first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman's administration in 1960.

The candlelight vigils will be held at the following venues and times:

  • Dataran MBPJ, Padang Timur in Petaling Jaya at 8pm
  • Speaker's Square, Penang (9pm)
  • Dataran Bandaraya Ipoh (8pm)
  • Dataran Zero KM, Sungai Petani (8pm)
  • Taman Hijau, Jalan Sultanah Zainab, Kota Bharu (8pm)
  • Pusat Tanah Wang, Jalan Perdada, Sibu (8pm)
  • Bangunan Al Idrus Commercial Centre, Kuching (8pm)
  • Front Entrance of 1 Borneo Hypermall, Kota Kinabalu (1pm)

On Monday, GMI chairperson Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh announced that the coalition of NGOs would distribute around 100,000 leaflets on the draconian law on the same day.

GMI also plans to erect billboards and put up banners on the ISA in Selangor, he added.

Syed Ibrahim (picture) called on the government to abolish all existing detention-without-trial laws such as the ISA, Emergency Ordinance 1969, Restricted Residence Act 1933 and Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 with immediate effect.

Suaram's 2009 Human Rights Report – released on July 21 – said Najib's first year in office marked further deterioration in the state of human rights in the nation.

In his maiden speech as prime minister, Najib had said his administration would not use the ISA arbitrarily and would give importance to the principles of human rights and civil liberties.

The government is planning to table amendments to the ISA in the areas of length of detention, rights and treatment of detainees and their families, the power of the home minister, the use of ISA for political reasons and detention without trial.

NEM: Perkasa screaming in a corner, goverment cowering in a corner

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 08:55 AM PDT

CIMB group chief executive officer Nazir Razak said the massive plunge in foreign direct investments last year was partially caused by uncertainties over economic reforms, such as the implementation of the New Economic Model (NEM).

Nazir said that the tweaking the four-decade old NEP was "simpler than we think" thus the government must now be decisive on economic reforms and execute them promptly, without being sidetracked by detractors such as Perkasa, the Malay rights pressure group, screaming in a corner and all these things are happening. Nazir said this period (of uncertainty) must be cut short. 


Posted: 30 Jul 2010 07:14 AM PDT

Extracts from KJ JOHN's, 'Idiocrats' running the country? In MKini

Idiotic administrator or public official whose only purpose seems to be creating and upholding useless and arcane beaurocracy. They have no skills other than wasting time and money. defines a bureaucrat as an official of a bureaucracy, or an official who works by fixed routine without exercising intelligent judgment. In my lexicon, the "idiocrat" not only feigns non-intelligence but also goes to the other extreme and "uses interpretive bias to interpret the translation of government policies at their own whim or fancy". 

Idiocrats allow 'Hitlers' to rise

Idiocrat citizens when in the majority allow the "Hitlers of the world" to rise! Please read a book by Eric Fromm called 'Escape from Freedom', wherein he gives his theory of why the majority of Germans allowed or tolerated Hitler. It was their escape from God-given freedom; and thereby responsibility.

We should teach all public servants the foundations of the rule of law in this nation. All public servants, regardless of role and function must understand that they must serve "professionally and without fear or favour."

They should be colour-blind in the service of this nation. They should only be fearful if the law is being abused; never otherwise!

 KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. He is now dean of the Faculty of Economics and Policy Science at UCSI University, Malaysia.

1000 Bas Datang Sekalipun, TGNA Akan Jawab: NTBL

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 06:38 AM PDT

Penyatuan Melayu: NGO digesa hantar 50 bas rayu Nik Aziz

Sebuah pertubuhan bukan kerajan (NGO) mengadakan forum penyatuan Melayu malam tadi dengan salah seorang panel penceramah meminta agar rombongan rakyat biasa dihantar merayu Mursyidul Am PAS Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat menerima idea kerjasama perpaduan orang Melayu Islam.

"Saya mencadangkan pelan tindakan rakyat, usaha membabitkan rakyat jelata dengan menghantar 50 buah bas ke Pulau Melaka, bertemu dengan Datuk Nik Aziz, bertemu dengan beliau di masjid, merayu kepada beliau supaya terima idea kerjasama penyatuan orang Melayu," kata blogger Kickdefella atau nama sebenarnya Syed Azidi Syed Abdul Aziz kepada The Malaysian Insider.

Kediaman bukan rasmi Nik Aziz, yang juga Menteri Besar Kelantan terletak di Pulau Melaka, kira-kira 10 minit perjalanan dari Kota Baru.

Menurut Syed Azidi, pelan tindakan itu hanya melibatkan pembabitan rakyat biasa atas alasan rakyat jelata sahaja yang boleh menggerakkan usaha sedemikan.

"Rakyat tidak boleh lagi mengharapkan ahli-ahli politik akan membawa perubahan dalam soal ini, sebaliknya rakyat perlu membawa perubahan dengan menentukan masa depan mereka (ahli-ahli politik)," katanya.

Bagaimanapun beliau tidak dapat menyatakan dengan tepat bila rombongan itu, dijangka membabitkan kira-kira 2,000 orang, akan dihantar ke Kelantan.

Kira-kira 100 orang menghadiri sesi bicara "Melayu Berpecah: Apa Tindakan Kita?" yang diadakan secara tertutup di Ampang dengan 10 orang berucap.

Pihak penganjur tidak membenarkan nama NGO menjadi nadi kepada usaha mereka itu didedahkan. Antara yang hadir ialah budayawan, ahli-ahli akademik dan pengamal media.

Syed Azidi berkata, beliau juga ada mencadangkan agar setiap orang yang menghadiri sesi malam tadi mengadakan pertemuan dengan rangkaian 10 orang mulai hari ini bagi menyebarkan idea dan matlamat yang dibincangkan.

"Jika 100 orang yang hadir malam tadi menyebarkan idea ini kepada 10 orang bermakna kita sudah ada 1,000 orang dan kemudian 10,000 sehingga kita mencapai sasaran akhir.

"Kami mahu pendekatan ini digunakan selepas mendapati tidak lagi boleh meletakkan harapan pada ahli-ahli politik dalam usaha menyatukan orang Melayu," kata beliau dipercayai merujuk kepada idea ini yang berulang kali dibangkitkan selepas prestasi pilihan raya umum ke-12 dua tahun lalu.

Setakat ini Umno berulang kali membangkitkan idea kerjasama perpaduan dan kerjasama politik dengan PAS tetapi PAS bertegas akan kekal bersama Pakatan Rakyat.

Dua tindakan lain disyorkan Syed Azidi, yang sehingga akhir tahun lalu berkhidmat dengan agensi kerajaan negeri Perbadanan Menteri Besar Kelantan (PMBK), ialah menghantar memorandum minta campur tangan raja-raja Melayu dan kemuncaknya kepada Yang di-Pertuan Agong kelak.

"Kita hendak dan perlu bergerak dengan rakyat, mengadakan pertemuan-pertemuan kecil mulai sekarang... Umno dan PAS tidak terlibat dalam usaha kami ini," kata beliau ketika ditanya mengenai pembabitan parti-parti politik.

Ketika ditemui malam tadi, Syed Azidi berkata kegagalan kerjasama Umno-PAS berpunca daripada sikap Nik Aziz yang tidak mahukan perpaduan Melayu tercapai.

Syed Azidi berkata, kegagalan dalam mencapai kerjasama dua parti Melayu itu bukan berpunca daripada Umno tetapi PAS.

"Saya tidak lihat ia berpunca daripada Umno kerana parti itu bersedia untuk bekerjasama dengan PAS," katanya.

"Punca utama adalah kerana halangan daripada Nik Aziz, padahal beliau sebenarnya tidak ada kuasa eksekutif untuk membuat keputusan," katanya.

Syed Azidi mendakwa apabila Nik Aziz bersuara tiada pemimpin lain yang berani membantah keputusan itu.

"Sebenarnya dalam PAS majoriti pemimpinnya mahukan kerjasama dengan Umno tetapi dihalang oleh kumpulan menentang cadangan itu.

"Malah saya percaya kumpulan ini yang menekan Nik Aziz supaya menolak cadangan kerjasama itu kerana beliau mempunyai pengaruh besar dalam PAS," kata beliau yang dipecat sebagai pegawai perhubungan awam PMBK tahun lalu.

Agensi itu diketuai oleh menantu Nik Aziz.

Sebelum ini Nik Aziz tetap dengan pendiriannya menolak sebarang perbincangan atau kerjasama dengan Umno kerana menganggap parti itu telah menyimpang daripada perjuangan Islam.

Malah Nik Aziz mengulangi bahawa Umno terus menunjukkan minat mahu membincangkan kerjasama dengan PAS selepas menyedari kedudukannya menjadi lemah pada pilihan raya umum ke-12 dua tahun lalu.

"Bila dah kalah baru cari kawan... selepas 13 Mei, (Allahyarham) Tun Abdul Razak datang jumpa PAS, kami ingat ikhlas, sebab saya orang yang paling kuat menerima jemputan (daripada Tun Abdul Razak).

"Tetapi bila sudah gemuk (selesa kedudukan), gigit (tangan PAS)... dia orang (akhbar menulis) PAS keluar (BN), tetapi bukan keluar, tetapi ditendang, macam mana punya wartawan tulis macam itu," katanya di Kuala Terengganu Sabtu lalu.

Selain itu, pemimpin-pemimpin kanan PAS termasuk Presidennya Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang berkata tidak mahu bercakap mengenai isu berkenaan dengan ada yang menganggap bab perbincangan parti itu dengan Umno "sudah ditutup."

Syed Azidi yang seringkali menulis isu-isu berkaitan perkembangan politik Kelantan dan penyatuan Melayu menambah, mengikut keadaan politik semasa, sekarang adalah masa terbaik untuk Umno dan PAS bekerjasama demi penyatuan orang Melayu di negara ini.

"Sekarang adalah masa terbaik untuk kedua-dua parti itu bekerjasama demi mempertahankan hak dan perpaduan orang Melayu yang dilihat berpecah.

"Tidak ada perpaduan yang boleh dicapai dengan masing-masing masih memegang kris kerana perpaduan itu boleh berjaya apabila berjabat tangan dan saling menghormati," katanya.

Oleh itu kata Syed Azidi, Umno dan PAS perlu meletakkan senjata dan bertenang sebelum berunding.

"Ia mungkin boleh berjaya," katanya.

Ulasan GB

GB yakin sekalipun 1000 bas ke Pulau Melaka Kelantan untuk memujuk Nik Aziz bagi perpaduan Melayu (UMNO-PAS), Nik Aziz akan tetap dengan pendiriannya: NTBL - No time bo layan.

Nik Aziz bukan seperti pemimpin PAS yang lain. Ada juga pemimpin PAS, walau tak der 1 basikal yg datang pun, dia pula terhegeh-hegeh masuk ke dalam kelambu UMNO.. kalau tak pun duduk sepentas bersanding dengan UMNO, pun cukuplah.

Itulah keistimewaan Nik Aziz dan itu rahsia mengapa PAS Kelantan tidak dapat dikalahkan oleh UMNO BN selama ini.

Book says many US universities a waste of money

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 06:11 AM PDT

Many US graduates leave university with tens or even hundreds of thousands in debt. — Reuters pic 

NEW YORK, July 30 — Spending as much as US$250,000 (RM800,000) on a bachelors degree from world-renowned US universities such as Harvard University and Yale is a waste of money, a new book asserts. 

"Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money And Failing Our Kids — And What We Can Do About It," urges parents and students to consider colleges that spend on teaching instead of sports and which encourage faculty to interact with students instead of doing research, taking sabbaticals and sitting on campus committees. "Undergraduates are being neglected," author Andrew Hacker, who co-wrote the book with Claudia Dreifus, told Reuters in an interview.

"Higher education has become the preserve of professors … (who) really have lost contact with the main purpose of higher education, which is the education of students." 

Hacker and Dreifus are critical of many US universities, noting the cost of a four-year degree has doubled in real dollars compared to a generation ago. But education, they say, has not become twice as good as many colleges lost their focus. Many Ivy League professors don't teach undergraduates at all and at many colleges teaching is largely farmed out to low-cost adjunct teachers, Hacker said. And, he said, many undergraduate degrees are vocational — from resort management to fashion merchandising — and vast sums of money have been spent on deluxe dining and dorm facilities and state-of-the-art sports centres. As the number of administrative staff has risen, he said, US$1 million annual salaries for college presidents have become common place. "Bachelor's level vocational education is, I don't want to say a fraud, but close to it," Hacker said. "Undergraduate business classes … are just a charade; 19-year-olds play as if they are chief executives of General Electric. It is a waste of time and money." Among the examples of unnecessarily vocational degrees listed in the book — due to be published on August 3 — are ornamental horticulture, poultry science and ceramic engineering."All undergraduate education should be a liberal arts education where you think about the enduring ideas and issues of the human condition," Hacker said. "After that, go on to law school or study dentistry — you have plenty of time." Hacker said the high price of tuition often has little to do with teaching."Prices got to where they are because both universities and administrators spent like drunken sailors," Hacker said, noting Ivy League graduates often have average careers.As well as drawing on their experience — both teach in New York, Hacker at Queens College and Dreifus at Columbia University — the pair, who are also domestic partners, travelled across America to find the best and worst colleges.They list 10 colleges they like, where teaching is the priority and where students get value for money. No Ivy League college makes their list.They recommend Arizona State University for its vibrancy and Kentucky's Berea College for its free tuition and 10-1 student-faculty ratio. They praise Notre Dame for promoting concern for the common good and Massachusetts Institute of Technology for treating part-time teaching staff well. The book recommends colleges focus on education and strip away sports programmes, trim bloated administrative budgets and spin off research and medical facilities. The authors say tenure should be abolished, that there should be fewer sabbaticals and that more attention should be paid to getting students intellectually engaged. Hacker said the tragedy of US universities is how many graduates now have six-figure loans, doled out with little regard to the students' ability to repay them. "This is not only unique to the United States but it is new. Ten years ago students were not taking out loans this way," Hacker said, predicting a high rate of default among student loans in the coming years.Hacker said that to keep costs down, many Americans should consider attending a college close to home to avoid paying as much as US$30,000 annually for out-of-state living expenses. — Reuters

SOURCE:MInsider_Book says many US universities a waste of money

Google computer reports China blockage, all humans report otherwise

Posted: 29 Jul 2010 04:47 PM PDT

As of this writing, numerous major American and European news outlets are reporting that Google is blocked in China, based on the information appearing on Google's Mainland China service availability page.

However no journalist has actually confirmed with a human being at Google that this information is correct. What's more, I've heard from several dozen people all over China who say that Google isn't blocked for them when they access it on their Internet connections from Beijing to Shanghai to Sichuan to Hunan.

I have yet to hear from a single person who can't access Google search in Mainland China. I am collecting people's responses via Twitter here. Also see the #googlecn tag. For a sampling see here, here, here, here, and here.

The most insane part of this whole non-story is that Google's stock fell 1.4 percent and Baidu's stock rose 3.5 percent. What's even funnier are all the financial analysts who commented to Reuters about the block...funny that is if you don't own Google stock...

Kudos to TNW and TechCrunch.

UPDATE: Mike Swift of the San Jose Mercury News has just posted this update on Twitter: "Google to Mercury News: Service Ok in China, and "it's possible that our machines could overestimate" a "small" block of last night."

UPDATE2: One person who e-mailed me from Beijing, who said it was OK to quote his e-mail but did not want to be named, just sent me the following:

"I can get, which I use regularly now, and the .com site seems to direct me to .com/hk. Search seems ok. Ive had times in recent few weeks when it didn't work, and then did, but this morning seems pretty OK for me. however, my colleague sitting next to me, however, has had the site do down a few times after searching for non-sensitive terms, and then seems ok a few minutes later.

UPDATE3: RWW has posted the following statement from Google:

"Because of the way we measure accessibility in China, it's possible that our machines could overestimate the level of blockage. That seems to be what happened last night when there was a relatively small blockage. It appears now that users in China are accessing our properties normally.

"Please also note that the dashboard is not a real time tool."

<a rel="nofollow" href="">Flood kills 29, brings fear of water contamination in northeast China province</a>

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 12:00 AM PDT

March of Democracy

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 05:37 AM PDT

"No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."- Winston Churchill, 1947 A.D.

Play the Video

 Where has democracy dominated and where has it retreated? This map gives us a visual ballet of democracy's march across history as the most popular form of government. From the first ancient republics to the rise of self-governing nations, see the history of democracy: 4,000 years in 90 seconds…!

The origin and history of great Religions

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 05:09 AM PDT

Watch the origin and history of great Religions with flash player here_

The origin and history of great Religions

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Li Bingbing on Elle China (August 2010)

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 03:58 AM PDT

Boycott Divestment Sanction Israel

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 03:46 AM PDT

This position of denying Jewish sovereignty has always brought even greater defeat and humiliation to its proponents. Arabs who accept the existence of Israel are free to enjoy life there too. Those who wish to deny Jewish life are merely denying Israel to themselves. Proof of the law of "measure for measure"!

Hat tip:Elder of Ziyon

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now

Hymen restoration covered for Muslim women by UK healthcare

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 03:59 AM PDT

From the Daily Mail. Increasing numbers of Muslim brides are having taxpayer-funded 'virginity repair' operations before marriage. There were 116 hymen replacement operations carried out on the NHS between 2005 and 2009. The total for 2009 was 30, up 25 per cent from 24 in 2005. The health service figures echo a trend reported by private clinics, which are seeing a huge surge in demand for the procedure from Muslim women paying up to £4,000.

One Harley Street clinic said that demand for its half-hour procedure had tripled in recent months.Doctors say patients are under pressure from future husbands or relatives who insist that they should be virgins on their wedding night. During the hymenoplasty procedure – viewed by some as invasive and degrading – the hymen is stitched or reconstructed so that it will tear again and bleed on the woman's wedding night. In some cases, the vaginal lining can be used to create a false hymen. A blood capsule can then be inserted into the lining to ensure realistic blood flow when the membrane is broken. Consultant gynaecologist Dr Magdy Hend performs hymenoplasty under local anaesthetic at his Regency Clinic on Harley Street. He charges £1,850 for the half-hour procedure and says that most of his clients are Muslim women.

He said: 'In the past, we would do one or two hymen reconstruction operations a week. Sometimes now, we get two or three women a day. Demand has tripled.'Our Muslim clients worry about having had sex, and their fiance and family knowing that they have been touched before. 'It is more cultural rather than religious. If the bride is not a virgin and does not bleed on the wedding night, it is a big shame on the family. There have been honour killings in extreme cases.

'It is simple surgery that takes only half an hour. They can have it done at lunchtime and do not have to give their real names and addresses.' There have been calls for a ban on NHS surgeons carrying out the operations for women wanting to marry as virgins. But a Department of Health spokesman insisted that hymen repair operations take place on the NHS only to ensure a patient's physical or psychological health.

She said: 'The NHS does not fund hymen repair operations for cultural reasons. All operations on the NHS are on the basis of clinical need. 'Operations to repair the hymen are only carried out exceptionally to secure physical or psychological health.' And by sheer coincidence all of these "non-cultural" hymenoplasties are being done for women who share the same culture.

Not that I am against this being paid by public funds. The potential cost to the British taxpayer for an honor killing - investigation, prosecution, incarceration -would be much higher. Hymen removal is a prophylactic medical procedure to avoid being slaughtered. Hat tip: Elder of Ziyon

Love in Disguise (2010) movie trailer

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 03:11 AM PDT

Chinese movie trailer for Love in Disguise, starring Wang Leehom, Liu Yifei and Joan Chen. The film is Wang's directorial debut and Liu's first movie since her act in Hollywood production Forbidden Kingdom

Old school romance-comedy where a pop star is disguising himself to win a girl's heart. Despite Wang's years of acting experience he has never convinced me as an actor… doubt that it's going to change anytime soon.

Love in Disguise (2010) movie trailer from YeinJee's Asian Blog

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Posted: 30 Jul 2010 03:06 AM PDT

Against the beautiful backdrop of the majestic City Hall of Penang and the Town Hall and in proximity to Fort Cornwallis, purportedly the place where Francis Light first landed, history will be created again this Sunday, August 1st at the Speakers' Square, Esplanade when people gather for the "Abolish ISA Night" @ 9p.m..

Organized by Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI, this gathering will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Internal Security Act described as draconian by critics.

The Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) (Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri) is a preventive detention law in force in Malaysia. The legislation was enacted after Malaysia gained independence from Britain in 1957. The ISA allows for detention without trial or criminal charges under limited, legally defined circumstances.

You can read more about the ISA HERE. Amnesty International has a report AT THIS SITE about how via the ISA, there are cases of individuals whose rights have been restricted or denied. It also examines in detail the trial of Anwar Ibrahim and his subsequent imprisonment as a prisoner of conscience.

At a press conference held yesterday, Penang Suaram secretariat member Ng Eng Kiat said the ISA was not used for national security but was used against perceived threats against the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

"We want to express our strong disagreement … this act must be repealed," he said.

"We want to invite everyone including BN parties who are against detention without trial to come forward and show where you stand," he added.

Last week, Suaram in its annual report claimed Malaysia arrested nearly 1,000 anti-government protestors in 2009, signalling "heightened intolerance".

Penangites are invited to wear black or red when they come forward for this very important event. The program for the night includes performances, speeches by YB Chow Kon Yeow, President of Lim Lian Geok Cultural Development Center (LLG)Dr Toh Kin Woon (former Penang State EXCO), student representatives and other representatives from Pertubuhan Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM)and gimmick. Encik Ahmad Fadli will be reciting poems while Rozaimin will be singing as well. The event will end with a presentation by Gimmick.

In other parts of Malaysia, there will be other events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of ISA.

Come and be part of a growing citizenry of Malaysians who want justice. This is a time for solidarity.

There will be a Candlelight Vigil at 8p.m. in Sundat at Dataran MBPJ opposite Amcorp Mall/ Padang Timur. The program for that event is as follows:

2005H - Short/very brief speech by Syed.

2005H- 2015H - A short performance by Rumah Anak Teater

2015H-2030H - Vigil proper

2030H-2035H- Reading of the declaration

2035H-2045H- Closing with Meor's song

Details of the venue for the vigil in the other states are as follows :

PENANG : at Speakers Square. For details, call Jing Cheng @ 012-7583779

PERAK : at Dataran Bandaraya Ipoh. For details, call Dr Kumar @ 019-5616807

KEDAH : at Dataran Zero KM, Sg Petani. For details, call Simon Ooi @ 012- 4202264

KELANTAN : at Taman Hijau, Jalan Sultanah Zainab ( after Merdeka field ). For details, call Zaidi @ 012-3840415

SEREMBAN : at Dataran Seremban. For details, call Veron @ 016-6687900

SIBU : No.25, Pusat Tanah Wang, Jalan Perdada, 96000 Sibu, Sarawak. For details, call George @ 019-8873535

Kuching : at Lots 468-469, Bangunan Al Idrus Commercial Centre, Jalan Satok, 93400 Kuching. For details, call See Chee How @ 019-8886509 or Zulkifli @ 013-8958174

Live Webcast, click on THIS LINK on 1st August 2010 @ 8:00pm (however live webcast will be subject to broadband signal availability at the event location).

My dear fellow Malaysians, wherever you are in Malaysia, please come and be part of a growing citizenry of Malaysians who want justice. This is a time for solidarity. This is the time to stand together and cry aloud MANSUHKAN ISA!!

See you on Sunday, August 1st, 2010!!!

Notes for Medical students

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 02:55 AM PDT

Making Better Medical Doctors of Tomorrow

Proceed to read the notes here @ Mednotes

Where Have All The Good Men Gone?

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 02:21 AM PDT

Looking for staff, especially good ones these days is not easy at all. I thought times were bad and people wouldn't be so picky with looking for a job. I guess I was wrong. We're on the lookout for some staff to help us along with our stockpiling work flow.

We've managed to get two staff already but now we're looking for an office boy to help us with collection of  artworks, CD's and color proofs cos it really is a waste of both my partners and my time just to drive all the way to the heart of the city fighting with traffic to collect a miserable artwork or CD. The nearly one and a half hours spent driving could be used doing much more productive things.

As it is, I'm already way behind in issuing invoices for my clients and I don't want to be doing work and not billing anyone. So yesterday, I interviewed an office boy and to be honest, I did offer him quite a good package along with a best term life insurance package as we don't really skimp on paying people to work for us. If you're hardworking and dedicated, we don't mind paying you a little above the market for that particular position.

So, this guy comes in for the interview. I already had my mind set on hiring the fellow cos I'm pretty desperately in need of help. Halfway through the interview he asks if we do any overtime. So I said, yes, we sometimes do have overtime and that we pay overtime wages. He gave me this funny look like as if having to do overtime was a bad thing.

Good god, you're getting paid for overtime and a good rate at that. It's not like I'm asking you to work late for free. I don't get paid extra for staying back late! Then he asks if he needs to help out with production work and I said, yes, if you're free and we're tied up with work, then of course we would require you to help with production. Once again, he looks at me with disdain and finally says that he will call me back. Yeah, right.

Even if he did call me back, I wouldn't hire him right now. I'm pretty sure he would be a bad investment. No dedication whatsoever. I'm sure he's the kind who only wants to do what his job scope says and nothing more. Not a very good impression at all.

Heck, even I get down and dirty and do more than my job requires of me. I'm in charge of business development while my partner is in charge of finance and admin but both of us don't have any hesitation to do production work, delivery, installations, clean the office and whatnots.

If I was attending an interview, I would want to impress my future boss and show that I'm a go getter. I wouldn't have this negative impression on my face. I've been in this business long enough to read a person and this guy had lazy written all over him in 28 different languages!

Oh well, I suppose the times must be improving cos people can be so fussy with looking for jobs these days. I hope he enjoys his life as an office boy!

Kejayaan Melayu/Islam di Singapura hasil usaha sendiri

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 02:36 AM PDT

29 Jul 2010OLEH BERITA HARIAN SINGAPURAPENCAPAIAN masyarakat Melayu/Islam Singapura adalah hasil usaha mereka sendiri - menerusi kerja keras dan kesungguhan - selaras dengan nilai meritokrasi.Tiada bantuan khas mahupun layanan istimewa daripada pemerintah yang membantu memacu kemajuan Melayu/Islam di sini.Namun, walau perlu bersaing dalam sekitaran yang begitu sengit, masyarakat Melayu tidak mahu

Average Microsoft developers’ fat pay

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 12:39 AM PDT

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