Archive | June, 2007

Long Haul Flights Double Risk Of Blood Clots: WHO

29 Jun

GENEVA – Taking a long-haul flight doubles the risk of developing blood clots that can lead to potentially fatal deep vein thrombosis(DVT), the World Health Organisation warned on Friday.

DVT occurs when a clot forms in leg veins during periods of relative immobility, such as long-haul travel. The clot can then migrate to the lungs in what is called a pulmonary embolism (PE), or the heart or brain, causing a heart attack or stroke.

The overall phenomenon is known as venous thromboembolism (VTE), the WHO said in its Research Into Global Hazards of Travel project.

Following five separate research studies as part of first phase of the project, the WHO said that “the risk of developing venous thromboembolism approximately doubles after travel lasting four hours or more.”

The absolute risk of developing VTE if seated and immobile for more than four hours remains “relatively low” at about one in 6,000, the WHO said.

However the chances are greater for people deemed at risk — for example those who regularly take long-haul flights, those who are obese, either very tall or very short (above 1.9 meters and below 1.6 metres (above six foot three inches and below five foot three)), women who take oral contraception, or people with inherited blood disorders, it said.

“There is a public health issue,” said Shanthi Mendis, a WHO senior adviser on cardiovascular diseases, noting that some two billion people are estimated to fly every year.

The WHO stressed that the risks posed by immobility do not just apply to airline passengers but also those who undertake long journeys by car, bus or train.

“The risk is linked to the fact the people are seated and do not move, they remain immobile for several hours … we don’t move enough when we travel,”

Catherine Le Gales-Camus, WHO assistant director general for non-communicable diseases and mental health, told journalists.

Travellers can take “common-sense” measures to reduce the risks of contracting VTE by regularly exercising their calf and ankle muscles during a journey, or simply getting up and moving around a bit, the WHO said.

Passengers should also avoid taking sedatives or too much alcohol ahead of a voyage, it added.

However it shied away from making specific recommendations of preventive measures such as blood-thinning medications and elastic stockings which seek to prevent clotting, saying more research was needed into possible side effects.

“There is a clear need for travellers to be given appropriate information regarding the risks and for further studies to identify preventive measures,”

which will be covered under the second phase of the research project, the WHO

said. AFP/rose

Channel News Asia

Siapa Bakal Juara?

26 Jun


MESKIPUN sekarang ini banyak pihak berusaha menganjurkan pertandingan nyanyian bagi mencungkil bakat baru, namun usaha yang dilakukan oleh RTM tetap tidak dilupakan.

Ini kerana menerusi pertandingan nyanyian anjuran RTM seperti Bintang RTM, Golden Teen Search atau Bintang Gala 2, ramai bakat baru tampil berjaya membina nama di persada seni tanah air.

Antara bakat yang berjaya mencipta nama selepas menyertai pertandingan nyanyian anjuran RTM ialah Allahyarham Sudirman, Ramlah Ram, Rohana Jalil, Jamal Abdillah, Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Liza Hanim dan Dia Fadila.

Pertandingan nyanyian anjuran RTM seperti Bintang RTM lebih mengutamakan bakat nyanyian berbanding program pertandingan nyanyian anjuran stesen TV lain.

Justeru itulah kebanyakan peserta lebih berkeyakinan untuk menyertai pertandingan nyanyian anjuran RTM kerana ia menggunakan khidmat juri profesional sebagai penilai berbanding khidmat pesanan ringkas (SMS).

“Kami lebih mengutamakan kualiti vokal para peserta. Selepas menilai vokal atau bakat peserta, barulah kita tengok faktor lain. Ini kerana kami mahu melahirkan bakat baru yang boleh menyanyi dan bukan sekadar bersandar pada rupa,” kata penerbit Malam Seribu Bintang Suara Emas Bintang RTM 2007, Ain Sabrina On.

Ain, 30, berkata seramai lapan peserta akan bertanding bagi merebut gelaran juara Suara Emas Bintang RTM 2007 pada 1 Julai ini yang akan diadakan di Auditorium Perdana, Angkasapuri, Kuala Lumpur.

Lapan peserta yang layak ke peringkat akhir ialah Shahir, Izzi, Zeti, Amin, Shah, Han, Rey dan Alyn. Kesemua mereka akan mengadakan persembahan dengan iringan Orkestra RTM.

Jelas Ain, pada malam pertandingan akhir yang menggunakan tema Malam Seribu Bintang, para peserta turut diuji minda dengan satu soalan berkisar tentang negara Malaysia.

“Soalan menguji minda akan ditanya oleh seorang juri selepas mereka mengadakan persembahan. Lima orang juri lain akan menilai peserta dari segi vokal dan persembahan,” katanya.

Pada pukul 8.45 malam ini, RTM1, finalis Suara Emas Bintang RTM akan menjayakan Konsert Pra Akhir sebelum bersaing ke peringkat akhir pada Ahad ini.

Tegas Ain, pada malam pertandingan akhir itu juga beberapa artis yang dicungkil bakat mereka daripada program pertandingan nyanyian RTM akan diundang untuk mengadakan persembahan.

Menariknya, pada malam itu nanti mereka akan menyanyikan lagu yang pernah didendangkan sewaktu pertandingan dulu.

Antara artis yang akan memeriahkan pertandingan akhir Suara Emas Bintang RTM 2007 ialah Razak Rahman, Jari dan Andre Goh (Bakat TV), penyanyi kumpulan Fenomena, Mohd. Kamal Abdullah (Rentak Juara), Nora (Bintang HMI), Liza Hanim dan Zehra Zambri (Golden Teen Search), Dia Fadila (Bintang Gala 2), Siti Sarah dan Misha Omar (finalis Bintang RTM) serta Ester Khoo dan Sammy Ariff (Nescafe Suara 90-an).

Sementara juara Bintang RTM yang akan turut serta ialah Najib Haniff, Rosemaria, Rohana Jalil, Azharina, Eja Arshad, Rina Azhar dan Felis.

Selain mencari juara Suara Emas yang akan membawa pulang wang tunai RM13,000, kedua RM7,000 dan ketiga, RM4,000, setiap pemenang juga akan menerima trofi dan sijil penyertaan.

Pada pertandingan akhir itu nanti juga akan dipilih Bintang Popular berdasarkan kiriman sistem pesanan ringkas (SMS) daripada penonton. Pemenang kategori ini akan membawa pulang wang tunai RM3,000.

Kesemua pemenang pilihan juri dan orang ramai layak untuk merakam album bersama Orkestra RTM.

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Australian Aborigines Label Government Crackdown A Land Grab

26 Jun

SYDNEY: Aborigines on Tuesday said the government was trying to steal their land under the guise of responding to a crisis that Prime Minister John Howard has labelled Australia’s own Hurricane Katrina.

Canberra began deploying police and soldiers to the Northern Territory outback this week under a controversial plan to combat widespread child sex abuse in Aboriginal communities.

Indigenous leaders presented a letter bearing more than 90 signatures to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Mal Brough Tuesday condemning the plan, which involves Canberra taking control of leases on Aboriginal land for five years.

Pat Turner, who was once Australia’s most senior Aboriginal bureaucrat, said Howard’s conservative government was trying to reverse hard-fought indigenous land rights.

“We believe that this government is using child sexual abuse as the Trojan horse to resume total control of our land,” she told reporters.

“No compensation will ever, ever replace our land ownership rights.”

The crackdown – including bans on alcohol and pornography, as well as medical check-ups for all children under the age of 16 – follows a damning government report into child abuse in indigenous communities.

While critics have branded it a paternalistic return to the past, Howard said strong action was needed to address a national failure comparable to Washington’s botched response when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.

“Many Australians, myself included, looked aghast at the failure of the American federal system of government to cope adequately with Hurricane Katrina and the human misery and lawlessness that engulfed New Orleans in 2005,” Howard said in a speech late Monday.

“We should have been more humble. We have our Katrina, here and now.

“That it has unfolded more slowly and absent the hand of God should make us humbler still.”

– AFP/yy

Channel News Asia

Australian Police, Soldiers Deployed In Aboriginal Communities

25 Jun

SYDNEY: Police and soldiers began deploying to outback Australia on Monday as part of a radical plan to end child sex abuse in Aboriginal communities which has been criticised as a return to the nation’s paternalistic past.

Prime Minister John Howard last week announced he would use police backed by military logistics to seize control of indigenous camps in the Northern Territory to protect women and children.

The controversial decision, which includes bans on alcohol and pornography and medical check-ups for all children under the age of 16, was taken following a damning government report into child abuse in indigenous communities.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said 20 Australian Defence Force personnel were already on the ground and their number would be boosted in coming days as they prepared to deploy to remote communities.

“Right now I’m trying to stabilise in the order of 70-odd towns in the territory – that is a massive undertaking,” Brough said.

Federal police also began arriving in the Northern Territory capital, Darwin, Monday along with those from several states, each of which has been asked to contribute 10 officers.

But one of the most troubled communities, Mutitjulu near Uluru, has questioned what some of its leaders termed a military occupation.

“The fact that we hold this community together with no money, no help, no doctor and no government support is a miracle,” community leaders Bob and Dorothea Randall said in a statement released by their lawyer.

“Police and the military are fine for logistics and coordination but healthcare, youth services, education and basic housing are more essential.”

They also questioned whether children should undergo medical checks.

“Of course, any child that is vulnerable or at risk should be immediately protected, but a wholesale intrusion into our women and children’s privacy is a violation of our human and sacred rights,” the Randalls said.

Former conservative prime minister Malcolm Fraser also criticised the plan as a throwback to paternalistic practices of the past, such as the removal of Aboriginal children from their families.

“People must be treated with respect, and in relation to this point they have not been,” Fraser told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“In relation to that, I said it was a throwback to past paternalism because it clearly this time has been put in place, announced without any consultation with the communities.”

Howard dismissed accusations of high-handedness over the plan, which was devised without consultation with Northern Territory leaders.

“I have no doubt that the women and children of indigenous communities will warmly welcome the federal government’s actions,” he said.

– AFP/so

Channel News Asia

Australia To Ban Alcohol, Porn In Aboriginal Communities

21 Jun

SYDNEY: Australia will ban alcohol and pornography in Aboriginal communities across the country’s vast Northern Territory to combat widespread child sexual abuse, Prime Minister John Howard said Thursday.

Describing the plight of Aboriginal children as “a national emergency”, Howard said he was taking control of indigenous communities from the Northern Territory government because it had not addressed the problem.

The prime minister introduced the unprecedented measures in response to a Northern Territory government report released last week that found rampant child abuse fuelled by a “river of grog” (alcohol) in indigenous communities.

“This is a national emergency, there is no greater obligation this parliament has than caring for all the vulnerable and young in our community,” Howard told parliament.

“We’re dealing with a group of young Australians for whom the concept of childhood innocence has never been present. That’s a sad and tragic event and exceptional measures are required to deal with an exceptionally tragic situation.”

Howard said once the federal government took over the administration of Aboriginal communities it would enforce sweeping changes including a six-month ban on the sale, possession and transportation of alcohol.

Hardcore pornography would also be barred from the communities once they came under Canberra’s control, Howard added.

He said up to 50 per cent of welfare payments would be earmarked for food and other essentials to ensure the money was not spent on alcohol, with the payment of some benefits linked to children’s attendance at school.

Police patrols in Aboriginal communities would be immediately stepped up and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) would carry out health checks on all Territory children aged 16 or under.

Howard did not specify when the changes would take place but said that, if needed, he would recall parliament from an upcoming break to pass the necessary legislation.

The Northern Territory has one of the highest concentrations of Aborigines in Australia but Howard said the problems were nation-wide.

He urged Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales – where the federal government does not have the power to override local state legislatures – to introduce similar bans.

But West Australian Premier Alan Carpenter said his government was already addressing the issue of Aboriginal child abuse and questioned why Howard had only declared it a national emergency after 11 years in office.

The report to which Howard was responding found problems with child abuse in all of the Northern Territory Aboriginal communities it visited.

It also described widespread alcohol abuse and found children in the impoverished and often overcrowded camps were often exposed to pornography at a young age then imitated what they had seen with each other.

The report cited evidence that children as young as five had contracted sexually transmitted diseases and that girls were being prostituted for petrol, which is commonly sniffed by youths in Aboriginal communities.

It also detailed allegations non-indigenous paedophiles were targeting Aboriginal communities and said mine workers in some areas paid young indigenous girls for sex.

The sexual abuse often went unreported but had scarred generations of indigenous youngsters, the report found.

There are about 470,000 Aborigines in Australia’s 20 million population.

They are the country’s most impoverished community, with life expectancy more than 17 years lower than their compatriots and higher rates of heart disease, infant mortality and domestic violence.

– AFP/yy

Channel News Asia

Membotakkan Kepala Fenomena Budaya Popular?

21 Jun

DEMI untuk menjayakan sebuah watak dalam filem For Vendetta, pelakon Natalie Portman pun membotakkan kepalanya. Tindakan itu tidak menjadi sesuatu yang kontroversi. Apalagi khalayak menuduhnya sengaja mahu mencari gimik.

Di Hollywood, para pelakon sanggup melakukan apa sahaja untuk memastikan watak dan filem mereka berjaya. Pastinya lebih daripada membotakkan kepala termasuk seks dan bogel.

Baru-baru ini, pelakon Sharifah Amani Syed Zainal Rashid, 21, atau Nanie turut melakukan perkara yang sama. Membotakkan kepala. Kononnya bagi menjayakan watak sebagai Rohani dalam filem Muallaf, arahan Yasmin Ahmad.

“Lebih baik saya cipta perkara lain yang lebih dahsyat kalau benar saya mahu buat gimik. Lagipun buat apa saya mahu menyeksa diri jika ia tidak memberikan kebaikan kepada semua pihak,” komen Amani mengenai tindakannya itu.

Beliau juga turut menyamakan tindakannya itu dengan keputusan Natalie Portman. Kedua-duanya membotakkan kepala hanya untuk menghidupkan sebuah watak dalam filem.

Sebenarnya, dua aspek boleh dilihat dalam memperkatakan tindakan Sharifah Amani tersebut. Di satu sisi beliau bukan meletakkan dirinya dalam ruang budaya Melayu dan Malaysia.

Membotakkan kepala bagi seorang wanita (Melayu) dalam masyarakat di negara ini merupakan sesuatu yang aneh, pelik dan mungkin memalukan atau bertentangan dengan Islam.

Aspek lain ialah seni (filem) tempatan sebenarnya telah menempatkan dirinya dalam seni moden yang menekankan kepada eksplorasi dan kebebasan yang didasarkan kepada kesenian Eropah dan Amerika.

Prinsip-prinsip dalam kesenian moden itu tidak seluruhnya teradaptasi. Ia muncul secara berperingkat-peringkat dan kadang-kadang dalam bentuk yang lebih ekstrem. Akibatnya, tidak ada kesinambungan dengan paradigma seni yang menjadi asal usul seni Malaysia.

Tanpa kita sedar, seni moden termasuk filem

jika dilihat secara mendalam mempunyai hubungan erat dengan kuasa iklan, konsumerisme dan persaingan hingga memaksa seseorang mencari kelainan.

Seseorang pembikin filem atau penggiat seni tidak lagi meletakkan budaya dan nilai-nilai kesepakatan sosial pada tempat teratas. Sebaliknya, meletakkan keuntungan daripada modal mereka ditempat tersebut.

Penafsiran tentang kebudayaan moden oleh QD Lewis dan Mattew Arnold dalam Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice (2003) cukup menarik dalam memperkatakan isu tersebut.

Kedua-dua sarjana itu bertitik tolak di atas kajian budaya (culture studies). Mereka menyimpulkan bahawa abad ke-20 bererti bermulanya era budaya popular yang akan mengikis budaya tinggi sesuatu masyarakat. Ia akhirnya akan membenihkan budaya massa dalam dunia industri.

Budaya popular tidak lagi mementingkan estetika, kesepakatan budaya dan nilai-nilai asal dalam masyarakat kerana asas perkembangannya ialah kapitalisme dan konsumerisme.

Persoalan yang sama turut diutarakan Arjun Appadurai dalam bukunya Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (1996) yang melihat kemunculan budaya global.

Appadurai berpendapat, globalisasi menyebabkan kebudayaan sesebuah bangsa tidak lagi mempunyai sempadan hasil daripada peranan media dan teknologi informasi. Selain itu terdapat saluran lain seperti radio, televisyen, filem dan sebagainya.

Lalu, adakah isu membotakkan kepala Sharifah Amani lebih daripada untuk menjayakan watak dalam filem Muallaf? Ini kerana seni moden membabitkan aspek yang lebih luas iaitu kapitalisme dan konsumerisme.

Namun, tidak ada kebebasan mutlak bagi manusia, siapa pun dia. Kita tetap terikat dalam satu sistem sosial dan sistem budaya yang disepakati sejak turun-temurun.

Ernst Cassirer dalam bukunya An Essay of Man berpendapat, kegagalan seseorang anggota masyarakat dalam sistem sosial menerima prinsip dan peraturan yang ditetapkan, ia akan menyebabkan struktur sistem itu menjadi lemah.

Di sisi lain, pandangan seseorang ulama perlu diambil kira. Dalil yang dikemukakan ada dalam al-Quran, dan aplikasinya pada Rasulullah SAW. Jangan terburu-buru menghentam setiap kata mufti yang tidak bersesuaian dengan citarasa kita, apa kata kita ambil sedikit masa untuk mengkaji kenyataan mereka itu.

Ada hadis Rasulullah yang melarang wanita membotakkan kepala menurut tulisan itu. Itu aspek agamanya. Dalam sistem sosial kita juga jelas menolaknya.

Utusan Malaysia

MediaCorp Raintree Pictures Collaborates With Chinese Filmmakers

18 Jun

SHANGHAI, China: Singapore’s MediaCorp Raintree Pictures has embarked on a groundbreaking movie venture that marks its first collaboration with Chinese filmmakers.

Joining Hollywood superstar Sharon Stone and Hong Kong movie queen Maggie Cheung on the red carpet of the 10th Shanghai International Film Festival was Singapore’s very own Qi Yuwu.

The actor is appearing in the upcoming movie “Painted Skin” with Chinese action star Donnie Yen.

The US$10 million project is the first movie collaboration between filmmakers in Singapore and China, and it will feature a pan-Asian star-studded cast, helmed by heavyweight director Andy Chin of the “Dragon Chronicles” fame and producer Wilson Yip who directed last year’s “Dragon Tiger Gate”.

Qi said: “As an actor from Singapore, I hope this will help others understand Singapore better and discover talents in Singapore. I think it will be great to show Singapore’s works to the world.”

Chan Pui Yin, Assistant Vice President, MediaCorp Raintree Pictures, said: “In the past, when our movies like “The Best Bet” and “I Not Stupid” were released in China, it was through a distribution channel. This is our first collaboration in co-production.”

Touted as an action-packed movie with dramatic digital special effects, “Painted Skin” tells the tale of a love-hate relationship between a vixen spirit and a group of humans.

It is expected to be one of 2008’s biggest highlights for the Chinese film industry.

The movie is based on the Chinese classics “Strange Tales of Liaozhai”, a collection of short stories filled with supernatural elements such as ghosts and spirits.

This is also the first time that Chinese film authorities have allowed a film with a supernatural theme to be made in China.

The lead actress for the movie has yet to be chosen and the public has been invited to send in their suggestions.

Among the actresses that are being considered are popular Chinese stars like Zhou Xun, Zhang Ziyi and Fan Bingbing.

– CNA/so

Channel News Asia