Saturday 28 January 2012

If Beer Be The Food Of Life; Drink On!

Beer Glorious Beer!!!

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Beer

Beer drinkers rejoice: Your favorite brew may be healthier than you think.

For years, wine drinkers have indulged without guilt, reveling in the news that red wine can help protect against heart disease. Recent research shows that beer can also be good for what ails you, from reducing risk for broken bones to helping warding off diabetes and mental decline. It can even increase longevity, a large study suggests.

However, the key to tapping into beer’s benefits is moderation, meaning just one 12-ounce beer per day for women and two for men. Heavy drinking ups the threat of liver damage, some cancers, and heart problems. Bingeing on brewskis can also make you fat, since a 12-ounce regular beer has about 150 calories, while light beer has about 100.

Here are 10 surprising—and healthy—reasons to cheer about your next beer.

1. Stronger Bones

Beer contains high levels of silicon, which is linked to bone health. In a 2009 study at Tufts University and other centers, older men and women who swigged one or two drinks daily had higher bone density, with the greatest benefits found in those who favored beer or wine. However, downing more than two drinks was linked to increased risk for fractures.

For the best bone-building benefits, reach for pale ale, since a 2010 study of 100 types of beer from around the word identified these brews as richest in silicon, while light lagers and non-alcoholic beers
contained the least.

2. A Stronger Heart

A 2011 analysis of 16 earlier studies involving more than 200,000 people, conducted by researchers at Italy’s Fondazion di Ricerca e Cura, found a 31 percent reduced risk of heart disease in those who quaffed about a pint of beer daily, while risk surged in those who guzzled higher amounts of alcohol, whether beer, wine, or spirits.

More than 100 studies also show that moderate drinking trims risk of heart attacks and dying from cardiovascular disease by 25 to 40 percent, Harvard reports. A beer or two a day can help raise levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol that helps keep arteries from getting clogged.

3. Healthier Kidneys

A study in Finland singled out beer among other alcoholic drinks, finding that each bottle of beer men drank daily lowered their risk of developing kidney stones by 40 percent. One theory is that beer’s high
water content helped keep kidneys working, since dehydration increases kidney stone risk.

It’s also possible that the hops in beer help curb leeching of calcium from bones; that “lost” calcium also could end up in the kidneys as stones.

4. Boosting Brain Health

A beer a day may help keep Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia at bay, researchers say.

A 2005 study tracking the health of 11,000 older women showed that moderate drinkers (those who consumed about one drink a day) lowered their risk of mental decline by as much as 20 percent, compared to non-drinkers. In addition, older women who downed a drink a day scored as about 18 months “younger,” on average, on tests of mental skills than the non-drinkers.

5. Reduced Cancer Risk

A Portuguese study found that marinating steak in beer eliminates almost 70 percent of the carcinogens, called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) produced when the meat is pan-fried. Researchers theorize that beer’s
sugars help block HCAs from forming.

Scientists also have found that beer and wine contain about the same levels of antioxidants, but the antioxidants are different because the flavonoids found in hops and grapes are different.

6. Boosting Vitamin Levels

A Dutch study, performed at the TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, found that beer-drinking participants had 30 percent higher levels of vitamin B6 levels in their blood than their non-drinking
counterparts, and twice as much as wine drinkers. Beer also contains vitamin B12 and folic acid.

7. Guarding Against Stroke

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that moderate amounts of alcohol, including beer, help prevent blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, neck and brain—the clots that cause ischemic stroke, the most common type.

8. Reduced Risk for Diabetes
Drink up: A 2011 Harvard study of about 38,000 middle-aged men found that when those who only drank occasionally raised their alcohol intake to one to two beers or other drinks daily, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes dropped by 25 percent. The researchers found no benefit to quaffing more than two drinks. The researchers found that alcohol increases insulin sensitivity, thus helping protect against diabetes.

9. Lower Blood Pressure

Wine is fine for your heart, but beer may be even better: A Harvard study of 70,000 women ages 25 to 40 found that moderate beer drinkers were less likely to develop high blood pressure—a major risk factor for
heart attack—than women who sipped wine or spirits.

10. Longer Life

In a 2005 review of 50 studies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that moderate drinkers live longer. The USDA also estimates that moderate drinking prevents about 26,000 deaths a year,
due to lower rates of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

These benefits appear to apply in other countries as well, with an earlier study reporting that, “if European beer drinkers stopped imbibing, there would be a decrease in life expectancy of two years—and much unhappiness.”

Saturday 21 January 2012

Awesome: Protest Against New Internet Laws Shows Quick Results

Stop Online Piracy Act and/or Protect Intellectual Property Act (SOPA and/or PIPA). I can only imagine what some imagination can do to drive Bersih 3.0 and ABU in Malaysia. Thanks Lita for this Rachel Maddow Show heads up.

CNN: SOPA and PIPA postponed indefinitely after protests

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- When the entire Internet gets angry, Congress takes notice. Both the House and the Senate on Friday backed away from a pair of controversial anti-piracy bills, tossing them into limbo and throwing doubt on their future viability.

The Senate had been scheduled to hold a proceedural vote next week on whether to take up the Protect IP Act (PIPA) -- a bill that once had widespread, bipartisan support. But on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was postponing the vote "in light of recent events."

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives said it is putting on hold its version of the bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The House will "postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said in a written statement.

The moves came after several lawmakers flipped their position on the bills in the wake of widespread online and offline protests against them.

Tech companies, who largely oppose the bills, mobilized their users this week to contact representatives and speak out against the legislation. Sites including Wikipedia and Reddit launched site blackouts on January 18, while protesters hit the streets in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) drew more than 7 million signatures for an anti-SOPA and PIPA petition that it linked on its highly trafficked homepage.

The tide turned soon after the protest, and both bills lost some of their Congressional backers.

"I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns," Smith said Friday in a prepared statement. "It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves."

PIPA and SOPA aim to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting access and services to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content.

Backed by media companies, including CNNMoney parent Time Warner, the bills initially seemed on the fast track to passage. PIPA was approved unanimously by a Senate committee in May.

But when the House took up its own version of the bill, SOPA, tech companies began lobbying heavily in opposition -- an effort that culminated in this week's demonstrations.

Reid hinted that PIPA may not be dead yet, saying: "There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved."

Meanwhile, alternative legislation has also been proposed. A bipartisan group of senators introduced the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) on January 18 -- the same day as the Wikipedia site blackout.

Among other differences, OPEN offers more protection than SOPA would to sites accused of hosting pirated content. It also beefs up the enforcement process. It would allow digital rights holders to bring cases before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), an independent agency that handles trademark infringement and other trade disputes.

California Republican Darrell Issa introduced OPEN in the House, and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden introduced the Senate version. OPEN's backers had posted the draft legislation online and invited the Web community to comment on and revise the proposal.

Soon after SOPA and PIPA were tabled, Issa released a statement cheering "supporters of the Internet" for their protest efforts.

He wrote: "Over the last two months, the intense popular effort to stop SOPA and PIPA has defeated an effort that once looked unstoppable but lacked a fundamental understanding of how Internet technologies work."

Anonymous strikes back after feds shut down piracy hub Megaupload

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- In one of the U.S. government's largest anti-piracy crackdowns ever, federal agents on Thursday arrested the leaders of and shut down, a popular hub for illegal media downloads.

Hours later, Megaupload's fans turned the table on the feds. "Hacktivist" collective Anonymous said it set its sights on the U.S. Department of Justice and apparently knocked the agency's website offline.

"We are having website problems, but we're not sure what it's from," a DOJ spokeswoman told CNNMoney.

The DOJ website glitches came soon after various Twitter accounts associated with Anonymous took aim at the agency.

Anonymous's favorite weapon for these attacks is what's called a "distributed denial of service" (DDoS) attack, which directs a flood of traffic to a website and temporarily crashes it by overwhelming its servers. It doesn't actually involve any hacking or security breaches.

"One thing is certain: EXPECT US! #Megaupload" read one tweet from AnonOps that went out mid-afternoon.

One hour later, the same account tweeted a victory message: "Tango down! & #Megaupload"

It was the largest attack ever by Anonymous, according to an Anonymous representative, with 5,635 people using a networking tool called a "low orbit ion cannon." A LOIC is software tool that aims a massive flood of traffic at a targeted site.

Universal Music's website also went down Thursday afternoon. The music company had been locked in a legal battle with Megaupload over a YouTube video that featured many of Universal Music's signed artists promoting Megaupload's site.

The websites of the Recording Industry Association of America and Motion Picture Association of America went down Thursday afternoon as well. On Twitter, AnonOps -- one of the main communications channels for the leaderless Anonymous collective -- took credit for the crashes.

An RIAA spokesman confirmed that the organization's website was intermittently offline. But he cast the attack as a minor hiccup.

"The fact that a couple of sites might have been taken down is really ancillary to the significant news today that the Justice Department brought down one of the world's most notorious file sharing hubs," he said.

By Friday morning, all but one of the subjects of Anonymous' attack were back online -- including the FBI's website, Warner Music Group and the U.S. Copyright Office. Only Universal Music remained unavailable, as the company took the site down for "maintenance."

A piracy crackdown: The Anonymous attack came soon after the DOJ announced the indictment of seven individuals connected to Megaupload for allegedly operating an "international organized criminal enterprise responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of copyrighted works."

Authorities said the operation had generated more than $175 million in illegal profits through advertising revenue and the sale of premium memberships.

According to the indictment, Megaupload, which launched in 2005, was once the 13th most visited website on the Internet, serving as a hub for distribution of copyrighted television shows, images, computer software and video games.

The site's popular MegaVideo subsidiary was widely known in tech circles for its copious selection of pirated content, including recent movies and episodes of hit TV shows.

Four of those indicted were arrested Thursday in Auckland, New Zealand, at the request of the U.S. Three others remain at large.

The individuals indicted are citizens of New Zealand, Germany, Slovakia and the Netherlands. No U.S. citizens were named. However, Megaupload has servers in Ashburn, Va., and Washington D.C., which prompted the Virginia-based investigation.

To shut down Megaupload, federal authorities executed 20 search warrants in eight countries, seizing 18 domain names and $50 million worth of assets, including servers located in Virginia, Washington, the Netherlands and Canada.

The news comes as lawmakers have turned their attention to anti-piracy legislation. Protests erupted both online and offline this week against two bills currently under consideration in Congress: the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate's Protect IP Act (PIPA).

The bills are aimed at cracking down on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content. But the legislation has created a divide between tech giants, who say the language is too broad, and large media companies, who say they are losing millions each year to rampant online piracy.

Friday 6 January 2012

RPK the Benedict Arnold? Think Again.

Having met RPK fleetingly on a few occasions, I cannot claim to know him personally. I probably know his wife better if only for the couple of conversations I shared with her about her role as spouse and soul mate of the man that is RPK.

RPK's latest shenanigan has invoked much anger among those who hope for positive political and social change in Malaysia. I think this is mainly out of fear and uncertainty that somehow his latest tirade will upset the apple cart and consequence in BN renewing its mandate. For all we know, this might well happen.

However, I would rather think that RPK has up the ante for Anwar and PKR for all their transgressions and omissions since March 2008. Anwar has not shown himself to be a visionary leader that we yearn for but continues to play on opposition sentiments for ABU-BN. PKR in turn remains haunted by controversy and that hard-to-shake, "party of BN also-rans" label. But notice that RPK is just training his guns on only Anwar, PKR and Selangor with nothing on PAS, DAP nor Kelantan, Kedah and Penang.

What RPK said in the last few days is nothing new and I dare say they are even things that are at the tongue tips of many of Anwar’s PR colleagues. My observation is premised on the fact that no one from PAS or DAP has weighed in with violent defence of Anwar against RPK’s allegations. The silence reverberates.

How has RPK raised the ante for Anwar and PKR? Well, for starters Anwar (and I mean also PKR) can no longer be passive and merely depend on sentiments to drive their political ambitions forward. I heard Anwar's speech at the Kelana Jaya Stadium rally the few days before what was to be All Frogs Day on 16th September 2008 and went away wanting. Anwar remains the same Anwar today.

It is ok to continue hammering on BN faults but the chameleon that is Anwar has never cast in stone exactly what he will do to make Malaysian society truly plural, inclusive and progressive. In most of his speeches he has not even emphasized the ideals and commitments of the PR Buku Jingga which at the end of the day is all too easy to subvert. Have all PR component parties reaffirmed their commitment to Zaid's (well, there are those who say it is his) Common Policy Platform? All it needs is for a split in PR for things to revert to BN style race politics. Go ask the likes of Hasan Ali and Nasharuddin Mat Isa. There are no concrete plans but mere rhetoric. Google and prove me wrong.

Second is that he has openly brought Anwar’s image down a few pegs and made Malaysians confront the real possibility of Malaysian opposition politics without Anwar. Suddenly, other options become realistic if not more palatable. Is Anwar really the only "semen-ting" factor (pun intended) uniting PR component parties?

Thirdly, RPK has taken the “Anything” in Anything But UMNO-BN (ABU-BN) and made us think deeper; are we to accept just anything? Anwar whether he likes it or not will need to show us that anything really means something. The 100-Day Buku Jingga reform timeline or nothing! Can the nation survive another five years of pedantic reform initiatives? PR must tell us what will be done exactly before we cast our votes to give PR two-thirds majority. 

Just remember that PR parties resoundingly adopted the civil society crafted document, The People’s Declaration (The People’s Mission and The People’s Plan) as its joint manifesto for GE12. What has happened till now? Much of it has become the Buku Jingga; it appears branding is just as important in politics as in marketing. The credits are now different.

Ask who actually drafted the People’s Declaration. It was probably not just one person and you can bet your last dollar that RPK and Haris Ibrahim were not too far away!

With all the recent controversy that surrounds accusations of RPK doing a Benedict Arnold I would like to recall the writings of RPK that had nothing to do with politics but on a value system he personally and strongly professes. You can check out the archives of MT for them. Whatever you may think of him, I am still convinced RPK remains a decent human being.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Sparking A Shift?

Update; 27th January 2012:
This was in the Malaysian Insider - Kit Siang: More Malays will join DAP

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Lim Kit Siang predicted that the Malay influx into DAP will continue, in spite of the party being branded “Chinese chauvinist” and anti-Malay.
Anticipating already the wrath of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) key leaders — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in particular — over his prognosis, the DAP veteran forewarned them today that “no force in the world” could stop Malays flocking to DAP.
“Let me inform the Umno leaders that this is the tide of the times and no force in the world can stop more Malays joining up with other Malaysians from other ethnicities in DAP to build a common destiny as Malaysian citizens for future generations of Malaysians,” he wrote in a statement here.
The Ipoh Timor MP then cited examples of DAP’s latest members — well-known Malay opinion leaders like former Utusan Malaysia journalist Hata Wahari and bloggers Mohd Arif Sabri and Aspan Alias, all of whom recently announced their loyalty to the largely Chinese-dominated party.
“Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin was sufficiently upset at Malays joining DAP as to even come out with a public statement,” Lim (picture) scoffed.
He stressed that since DAP’s formation more than four decades ago, the party had always been committed to its multiracial cause and had always been the forerunner of the 1 Malaysia policy, just recently mooted by Najib when he became prime minister in 2009.
DAP, added Lim, had never been anti-Malay, anti-Islam or anti-Malay Rulers and was merely labelled as such due to the “political insecurities of Umno leaders”.
“They (Umno) have subjected the DAP to an unrelenting assault with lies and falsehoods — as in the irresponsible exploitation of the 3R cards of race, religion and raja Melayu against the DAP by both Najib and Muhyiddin at the recent Umno general assembly,” he said.
To prove DAP’s multiracial stance, Lim pointed out that the party had never before been hauled in to face the Registrar of Societies for violating Section 2A (1) of the Societies Act 1966, which prohibits organisations from violating the Federal Constitution.
“DAP will be celebrating our 46th anniversary on March 18, and during the four-and-a-half decade of our struggle, DAP had never been once asked by the Registrar of Societies to show cause why we should not be deregistered for opposing or undermining the fundamental features of the  Constitution, whether with regard to Islam as the official religion or the system of constitutional monarchy,” he said.

I have followed Dato' Ariff Sabri's blog Sakmongkol AK47 since its inception and I dare say his move to DAP was not unexpected. This guy is no pushover and can be considered a great coup for DAP. However, the more crucial question would be why did he not move to PKR instead? The answer to this is as relevant to the changing mindset of many intellectual Malays as it is to the nature of the PKR beast today. More non-PKR and non-PAS Malays who clamor for change should consider following Sakmongkol AK47's lead.

The DAP in turn should not go to town with this latest recruitment but just maintain its characteristic bland, no-nonsense approach to nation building. In any case, this article by Dato' Ariff is as good a write-up as any on the DAP.

Malays should not fear the DAP

I am not going to respond to the xenophobic responses around news that Aspan Alias and Sakmongkol are about to join DAP. No explanation will be able to change preconceived biases. So why bother? So we are about to join or have joined DAP.

The DAP is a democratic party committed to the rule of law, good governance and good government. It abhors corruption and abuse of political office. To me those are attractive propositions. UMNO on the other hand has turned its back on these. It harps only on one primal worry of Malays- when UMNO is threatened it shares the threat with Malays at large. So a threat to UMNO is translated mindlessly into a threat to Malays as a whole. Nothing can be farther from the truth. That is how UMNO has approached politics in Malaysia basically- make its fears public, make the gains private for selected Malays within UMNO.

I have only one message to that- those salad days and that halcyon period are over.

UMNO is trapped by its own successes. Indeed its supporters and leaders assume ownership of the wrong things and end up digging in to support the wrong choices.

My answer is, if we do indeed change our political vehicle that is what we are actually doing. Don’t read our move as blasphemous or treasonable. The DAP is more relevant and functional in achieving a more democratic and abuse-free society. As a Muslim, we are changing wadah not aqidah.

So, I thought it would be more substantive to answer my critics by writing an article, why shouldn’t Malays embrace DAP politics? That’s the only way to dominate and conquer your fears.

How has DAP politics been inimical to the general political health of this country? Can any DAP Chinese leader be a PM when it’s contesting only at most 50-55 seats? Can any DAP non Malay leader harbor the dream of becoming a PM in a country dominated by Malays? Has the DAP threatened the institution of Malay rulers? DAP has never done that or will not be mad to countenance such rebellious idea, but UMNO on the other hand has insulted the Malay rulers way back in 1998 constitutional crisis. Can we reasonably accept the allegation that the DAP is instrumental in claims that Malays are being converted into Christians when most DAP members are not themselves Christians? We have to do better than that to take Malays as imbeciles. Only UMNO seems to do that.

But DAP is Chinese chauvinist party and anti-Malay. I will answer by examining the deeds rather than slogans. When I was an ADUN in the Pahang Legislative assembly ( 2004-2008) I have never heard the lone DAP member ever speak about anti Malay themes. He spoke about abuse of power, about mindless spending, he spoke about maladministration. The first book Lim Kit Siang writes that I read was Time Bombs in Malaysia. After that I read so many books written by Kit Siang that touched on the Maika Scandals, the BMF financial scandal and so on. If we are honest enough, we have to admit, the issues raised were never about one race dominating the other but were always about the abuses of those in power, corruption, and a continuous attack on policies that are ruinous to this country. So we are going to oppose Kit Siang on the basis of the fact that these things are spoken of by a Chinaman?

To the Chinese UMNO is also a chauvinist Malay party except, their leaders can be easily bought. The Malay will sell all to abandon their cause. Er…correction, the UMNO Malay, I mean.

I would also like to respond by saying- why Malays should consider joining DAP en masse. It’s a party committed to democratic principles and rule of law. I can only imagine, so many can prosper under a regime of freedom of speech within DAP. I can speak on the plight of the displaced and disowned Malays with more energy than allowed of in UMNO. The interest of Malays can be fought of on any political platform other than UMNO. That is what UMNO fears. Its monopoly is broken.

So the past week I have had many friends calling me asking whether it’s true I am joining DAP? Some folks in my hometown, Pekan refer to me now as Dato DAP. I find the responses somewhat amusing and comical.

There was a comment reminding me and Aspan as to who started May 13? The thrust of that reminder is to remind us; of his and others belief that DAP started the May 13 incident.

Ok, you want to play ball, we play ball too. Since you want to know, what if I say Tun Razak allowed it to happen because the ensuing troubles would give him an excuse to kick out Tengku Abdul Rahman? The point is, there was no single contributor to the May 13 incident. But I would place some blame on Tun Razak who as Home Minister allowed things to degenerate. He allowed it so that a proclamation of emergency can be made.

Finally, let me deal with certain responses from certain pro UMNO bloggers. The chief spokesman is of course that paid lackey and buffoon of a regurgitating machine. He does nothing but regurgitate material passed on to him by his paymasters. The material he writes and posts therefore emits the strong smell of vomit. The owner of the lard layered brain does what he does best- spewing personal attacks. And so he invites comments from likeminded mental gnomes to do what he has orchestrated.

Why the paranoia? If we are not good, failed ADUN, bankrupt politicians, it will be cinch for any winnable UMNO candidates to beat us. So, it’s no cause of concern or a sleep depriver. But please remember to stop telling lies about us so that we can promise not to tell the truth about you.

I see a sense of hopelessness. They cannot attack our nationalist credentials because we are as Malay as they are too ( to some we are , in fact more Malay in appearance and in thinking) – so they do what they do best. Attack me on the personal side. No big deal. My advice to these UMNO bloggers is simple. Please stop telling lies about me, and I promise not to tell the truth about you people. And telling the truth about you people includes telling the truth about top UMNO leaders including the PM who is Pekan UMNO division head.

If we are so easily beatable, then why all the fuss? We can’t do damage to invincible UMNO. We on the other hand, see UMNO as the party before, presently and forever stealing, pillaging and ruining the country.

Sunday 1 January 2012


Another day, another year...and some say, heralding a new age of human awakening and consciousness.