Monday, 28 April 2008

Thousands Watch Meeting of 3 Queen Ships

Thousands of New Yorkers turned out to watch the historic rendezvous of Cunard's three Queen shipsthe Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2 — in the waters off Lower Manhattan.

The three grand ships with the trademark red-and-black smokestacks lined up in front of the Statue of Liberty while colorful fireworks lit up the winter darkness for the once-in-a-lifetime event in January.

(Picture: Cunard's Queen Victoria on the Hudson River enroute to meet with its sister ships, the Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth 2, Jan 13, 2008.

"This is amazing," said John Stella of Staten Island, part of the crowd watching the spectacle from the Manhattan waterfront. "You'll never see it like this again."

The QE2 is being decommissioned later this year and turned into a floating five-star hotel in the United Arab Emirates. The Queen Victoria was launched in December. The two vessels sailed in tandem across the Atlantic to New York, then met up with the QM2, which homeports in Brooklyn.

After leaving New York, the Queen Victoria and the QE2 continued their world tour together, on route for their next port of call, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. This is the Queen Victoria's first trip around the world and the QE2's 26th and last.

The ships encountered rough seas on their trip from England to New York, including waves so high that they washed over the bow of the Queen Victoria. No one was injured, according to Cunard spokesman Brian O'Connor. The waves did not wash over the bow of the QE2, which is taller in front than the newer ships.

The rendezvous with the QM2 started about a half-hour late because it took more time than expected to get the QE2 in place. O'Connor said the QE2 has older propulsion and navigation technology than the other two and had to be guided by tugboats.

The QE2 will make one more final call in New York before retiring, on Oct. 16, as part of its "Farewell to America" trans-Atlantic crossing.

The QE2 is the longest-serving vessel in the 168-year history of the Cunard line. Since launching in 1967, it has traveled more than 5 million nautical miles, including more than 800 trans-Atlantic crossings with 2.5 million passengers. The ship was sold for $100 million to Dubai World, an investment company that manages projects for the government in Dubai.

Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of, said the QE2 "represents a previous era, in style and substance, of ocean liners, and it's an era that so many of today's younger, newer-to-cruising travelers will never see."

The Queen Victoria has three classes of passengers, but the differences in amenities are not as distinct as they were on the QE2. The staterooms are smaller but more of them have balconies. Like the other two ships, it has a "Queens Room" ballroom where elegant events are held, as well as a pub where guests can wash down fish and chips with a pint.

But the new ship has some features that the others do not, such as a 6,000-volume, two-deck-high library, a "Cunardia" history museum, fencing classes and a theater with private boxes.

Both the QM2 and the Queen Victoria also have restaurants overseen by the celebrity chef Todd English in addition to their regular dining rooms. English was on the Victoria greeting visitors, saying, "I'm here to tweak things."

The 151,000-ton QM2, which began sailing in 2004, is the largest of the three, carrying 2,592 passengers in 1,296 staterooms, plus 1,253 crew members.

The 90,000-ton Queen Victoria, which will homeport in Southampton, carries 2,014 passengers in 990 staterooms, plus 1,001 crew members.

The 70,000-ton QE2 carries 1,792 passengers in 1,002 staterooms, plus 921 crew members.

Steve Sturley and his 8-year-old son, Brammy, whom he described as a "Cunard fanatic," took a Circle Line boat ride in New York Harbor to watch the three ships and the fireworks from the water. The family plans to cruise on the QM2 next summer.

Asked what he thought of the ships, Brammy said, "They are big."

Cunard Line, a unit of Carnival Corp., is building a new Queen Elizabeth at Italy's Fincantieri shipyard, which built the Queen Victoria, with delivery in 2010. The new vessel will be Cunard's second-largest after the QM2. It will allow Cunard to keep three Queens in service after the QE2 retires.

Credit: By Beth J. Harpaz, AP

Friday, 25 April 2008

Useful information on banana

Never, put your banana in the refrigerator!!!

This is interesting.

After reading this, you'll never look at a banana in the same way again .

Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes.

But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit.

It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a 'cooling' fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking & Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassiu! m and ma gnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in 'The New England Journal of Medicine, 'eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, 'A banana a day keeps the doctor away!'

PS: Bananas must be the reason monkeys are so happy all the time! I will add one here; want a quick shine on our shoes?? Take the INSIDE of the banana skin, and rub directly on the shoe...polish with dry cloth. Amazing fruit.

This blog is specially dedicated to my friend, Lavanh Rattanavanno a.k.a. Monyet pidpid from Vientiane, Laos. I called her "Monyet" which means "Monkey" in Englishn (Monyet means 'Monkey' in Malaysian language). She likes to disturb me always and her attitude is as naughty as a monkey! Thats is the reason why i call her as "Monyet" or just "YetYet PidPid" (Note: Pid means 'Stupid'! Hahaha...)

She likes to eat banana so much and i hope she would like this blog as well which i specially dedicated to her for her knowledge of banana - a fruit that she like and eat everyday...

Yetyet pidpid... enjoy your banana der...!!

gagagagagagaga... (she laugh like this - her laughing style!!)

Drinking Water Myth

For years our mothers and doctors told us we should drink lots of water each day. How much is enough? Americans say 8 glasses, and some say probably between 8 to 10 glasses.

It's a rule that is familiar to almost everyone. But it seems to have no basis in fact. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania

searched for the origin of the eight-glasses-a-day theory by going back through at least three decades of scientific data. They found nothing conclusive.

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School is the senior author of this latest study says it is easy to understand how the idea of drinking large quantities of water got started-water is needed to sustainlife, then obviously that's led people to think: Well, if a normal amount is good, then extra might be better.

Dr. Goldfarb and his colleagues looked at five claims about drinking water -- the first, that large amounts help flush out toxins from the kidneys. They say no study provided evidence to support that.

Another claim is that the body's organs work efficiently with more water. The Pennsylvania scientists say the body's retention of water depends on the speed it is taken in. Sipping helps the body maintain greater amounts of water, they say, than gulping it.

Dieters have often been told the more water they drink, the less hungry they will feel. Again, there are two conflicting studies about the merits of water for weight reduction.

Two other claims -- that lots of water improves skin tone and helps prevent headaches -- were also unproven.

So, how much is enough? The scientists say 11 glasses of any kind of liquid is good for women and 15 is recommended for men. But that includes other fluids we drink or even the food we eat.

Dr. Goldfarb says we should just listen to what our bodies tell us. "Drink when you're thirsty. That's the way the body is designed."

By Vannasone Keodara (22/04/2008)

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Blogs can ruin your life

After countless names have been thrown around the World Wide Web and smeared with nastiness, many have expressed fear about people blogging about them.

But the truth is, you should be concerned not only with what others post about you. You should also be careful about what you post about yourself.

Blog backfire

Twenty-two-year-old Lisa called in sick one Friday afternoon. But she wasn't really sick. She was planning to start the weekend early by going to the beach with her friends. Days later, she posted pictures of the outing on her blog. Someone in her office found the link. Soon, she was called to her boss' office. She didn't lose her job, but she got into a lot of trouble.

Eighteen-year-old Anne enjoys an independent life. Both parents are in the US. She blogged freely about her misadventures'drunken nights out, failed tests, her penchant for bad boys. She thought her blog was being read only by her friends.

But a concerned relative sent the link to her parents who immediately jumped to action, calling Anne up and threatening to fly her to the US where she could be put under their watch. Anne is still in the country but has deleted her blog.

The two girls have experienced blog backfire. Things they posted online ended up working against them.

Make sure it doesn't happen to you, too. Here are some things to think about when you blog.

1. You don't know who is reading your page.

Unless your entries are locked and you have total control over who has access to them, you're never sure who is reading your entries. Your parents, your teachers - they're all just a google search away from unlocking your deepest thoughts.

2. What you post can make or break your career.

While some people have gotten book deals after building a huge blog readership, most bloggers need to realise that employers have started using Google searches as a tool to scan job applicants.

3. Will your post hurt anyone?

It is easy to vent online your anger with a friend or a family member. But let the anger simmer before hitting the 'publish' button. Sleep on it, think it over because once it's online, it will not be easy to get rid of - not with the cache features of online searches.

4. Can your entries be lifted and used against you?

Your blog entries may be lifted anytime by anyone who knows how to highlight and press Ctrl and C. Your photos may be stolen as easily and defaced, like some have been on gossip blogs. It may be smart to add javascript that prevents readers from right-clicking on your page. It's not total protection, but it may save you from the less-techie lurkers.

5. Will your entries attract the wrong kind of people?

Most blog readers are kind. They leave comments, they send you e-mails and sometimes, you even find people you can be friends with. But some of the more popular bloggers have had problems with blog stalkers. High internet traffic is a good thing, but not when it leads to scary encounters.

Original artical:

Eating By Your Blood Type

Introduced by Peter D'Adamo, the Blood Type Diet is based on the assumption that everyone is an individual. And who are we to argue? Logically, just because we share the same row and column in the BMI chart, it shouldn't define the way our dietary habits are. The Blood Type Diet makes interesting claims that people fare better (which includes weight management) when their diet is tailored to their specific blood type.


Individuals who fall under the Type A blood group should basically stick to fruits and vegetable. Their blood types is generally thicker than other blood types, and possess a sensitive immune system. These individuals should not consume (or should reduce intake) dairy products, animal fats and meats. They are also at a heightened risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.


Type B blood groupers should consumer a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy and meat. However, they should try to refrain from chicken, and increase intake of red meat such as duck and beef. Unlike the other blood types, Type B individuals have the best chance of bypassing or overcoming everyday types of diseases, as well as heart disease and cancer.


For Type AB individuals, intake of a mostly vegetarian diet is recommended. And only on rare occasions should they indulge in some fish, meat (not chicken) and dairy.


Those that fall under the Type O blood type should basically stick to a high protein diet, low carbs, as well as a balanced intake of fruits and vegetables. However, food foes for Type Os include most grain food such as corn and wheat germ. They should also try to avoid dairy products. Type O types are commonly affected with hypothyroidism, high stomach acid (leading to ulcers), and thinner blood with greater resistance to blood clotting.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Don't put dry ice in your car seat without opening the window

Remember this especially when we buy lots of ice cream during Baskin Robbins 31st day offer!!! They normally put dry ice in your ice cream pack if you buy a lot.

A friend bought four pack of ice cream and to prevent it from melting, the seller put the dry ice amongst the ice cream. My friend put it atthe back seat (not the back of the car) and he started to drive with the windows closed and the aircon on (as what we all do). Soon after that, he had difficulty to breath and it was getting worser by minutes. Luckily, he was in a traffic jam and when he almost fainted, beside himwas an ambulance. He dragged himself to the ambulance and got the oxygen treatment. He was getting better on the way to the hospital.

The ambulance officer drove his car to the hospital and he had the same experience. However, before his condition worsen, he opened up the window and he can breathe easily. Only later, when my friend has returned to office and told his colleagues about his story, they pointed to him that the dry ice was the problem. WHY?

Dry ice was made of CO2 and when it 'melts', it becomes CO2 gas straight away without leaving any wet mark (that is why it is called dry ice). CO2 is easier to be tied up in our blood and thus, when the dry ice sublimes into CO2 gas, it fills the car room with it along with the aircon circulation and caused CO2 poisoning. So, dont put the dry ice inside your car if you are using aircon with fully closed windows. You must leave the windows open for such situation.

Hope this will help to prevent any fatality just from a small negligence like this. Imagine if you have your children inside, they might be the first victim.

Additional New Stroke Identification Info

STROKE: Remember The 1st Three Letters.... S.T.R.

A nurse sent this and encouraged me to post it and spread the word. I agree.

If everyone can remember something this simple, we could save some folks.

Seriously... Please read:


During a BBQ, a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics)..... she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes.

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening.

Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 pm Ingrid passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Ingrid would be with us today. Some don't die.... they end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.

It only takes a minute to read this...

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke... totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.


Remember the '3' steps, S.T.R. Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S - Ask the individual to SMILE.

T - Ask the person to TALK and SPE AK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently, i.e. It is sunny out today)

R - Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 999/911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

New Sign of a Stroke -- Stick out Your Tongue

Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other,that is also an indication of a stroke.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Premature Birth Can Lead To Life-Long Problems

Premature Birth Can Lead To Life-Long Problems

Most babies are born after 40 weeks of pregnancy. However, a significant number of children come into the world early.

There are many reasons why babies are born 'pre-term'. In developing countries, poor maternal care, poor nutrition for mothers, infections and disease can contribute to preterm birth. But some children in the industrialized world are also born early - and the numbers of preterm births are slowly rising. The reason for the increase is unclear.

Duke University obstetrics professor Geeta Swamy was interested in the long-term effects of being born prematurely. She says, "We don't know a lot about what happens to those children [over the] long term, particularly as they grow up into adolescence and into adulthood and what implications does this have on their long-term health."

Swami was able to analyze the lifetime medical records of more than a million children born in Norway. She collected information about when they were born, what kinds of health problems they had and when they died.

Swamy focused on preterm children born before 37 weeks gestation, and also on children born before 28 weeks gestation? that's considered extremely preterm. She found children who were born early were also more likely to die early.

For girls, the increased risk of mortality was about 10 times higher than those born at term. And that's particularly true for those girls who were born extremely preterm. For boys who were born extremely preterm, they had about a five times increased risk of death during the early childhood age, up to about age 6, but they also had an increased risk mortality, up to about age 13.

Swamy says she also found long-term effects of being born early. Preterm children ended up completing fewer years of education. And they were less likely to have children of their own.

Among women who are born at term, roughly 70% of those women went on to reproduce or have a child. Among those women who were born extremely preterm, say, before 28 weeks, only 25% of those women actually went on to reproduce or have a child? We saw similar implications for men who are born preterm and term. For those who were born at term, about 50% of them went on to reproduce, compared to only about 14% of men who were born extremely preterm.

Swamy says scientists don't know for sure why prematurity confers such risk over the lifetime, and other studies are looking for those answers.

Her research is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

By Vannasone Keodara (05/04/2008)

Health in Lao Language, 3.05 MB - Download (MP3)

Health in Lao Language, 3.05 MB - Listen to (MP3)

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Red Wines Helps Prevent E. Coli, Other Food-born Diseases

Wine bottle and vineyard

Numerous studies show that a glass or maybe two of red wine can be good for your heart and even good for your waistline. Now researchers say red wine may also protect you from E. coli and other food-related diseases. Study also shows white wines did not help prevent or reduce negative effects of food-related illnesses. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Professor Azlin Mustapha at the University of Missouri says the study has shown that red wines do not harm useful bacteria in the stomach but do help protect against the harmful ones.

"We do know that they [red wines] actually kill these bugs as well as inhibit their growth. And the three [wines] that were the best among the ones we tested were Cabernet, Merlot, and Pinot Noir."

Professor Mustapha says certain chemical compounds occurring naturally in the vine or on the skin of the grape help the plant defend itself against diseases. She says these chemical compounds might also be found in red wine and that may be why it protects humans against certain disease-causing bacteria.

Some studies have disputed the benefits of drinking red wine. But Professor Mustapha says even when the researchers diluted red wines, they still killed or inhibited the growth of harmful bacteria. (picture: E Coli Bacteria)

"The key here is moderate consumption, meaning one glass about four ounces (about 120 ml) of red wine per day for females, a couple of glasses for males a day."

The researchers also evaluated white wines but found that only the red wines helped protect against the harmful bacteria.

By Carol Pearson

Monday, 14 April 2008

An Elephant Painting a Picture of an Elephant

This shows an elephant is painting a picture of an elephant! It's a little unbelievable..., but it is true!!

The above-linked video is "true" in the sense that it represents the real phenomenon of elephants who have learned to paint — with the caveats that "painting" in this sense means the animals outline and color specific drawings they've been taught to replicate (rather than abstractly making free - form portraits of whatever tickles their pachydermic fancies at the moment), they work under the direction of trainers, they don't all exhibit the same level of proficiency, and the quality of their output can be highly variable.

A BBC News article described an exhibition of such paintings at an Edinburgh gallery in 1996:

Pictures which were painted by elephants have gone on display at an Edinburgh gallery. Art graduate Victoria Khunapramot, 26, has brought the paintings from Thailand to the Dundas Gallery on Dundas Street.

They include "self-portraits" by Paya, who is said to be the only elephant to have mastered his own likeness.

Paya is one of six elephants whose keepers have taught them how to hold a paintbrush in their trunks. They drop the brush when they want a new colour.

Mrs Khunapramot, from Newington, said: "Many people cannot believe that an elephant is capable of producing any kind of artwork, never mind a self-portrait.

"But they are very intelligent animals and create the entire paintings with great gusto and concentration within just five or 10 minutes — the only thing they cannot do on their own is pick up a paintbrush, so it gets handed to them.

"They are trained by artists who fine-tune their skills, and they paint in front of an audience in their conservation village, leaving no one in any doubt that they are authentic elephant creations."

Mrs Khunapramot, who set up the Thai Fine Art company after studying the history of art in St Andrews and business management at Edinburgh's Napier University, said it took about a month to train the animals to paint.

The web site of the Asian Elephant Art and Conservation Project explains the background behind elephants' being taught to paint, with the resulting artworks being sold and the monies so raised being used to fund elephant conservation projects. The site includes a video gallery that features several clips of pachyderm artists in action similar to the one linked above, as well as galleries displaying the individual elephants' works. (Based on the similarity of drawings, we'd guess that the elephant shown in the example video is Hong, an eight-year-old female living at the Maetaman Elephant Camp in Thailand.)

Another photo gallery that captures painting pachyderms in action in Thailand can be viewed here.

Relevant topic (Please click on title):

(Thanks to Ms P. Kandaphati for the link)
BBC News "Elephant 'Self-Portrait' on Show." 21 July 2006.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Baby With 2 Faces Born in North India

Mother Sushma holds her daughter Lali at their residence in Saini Sunpura, 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of New Delhi, India, Tuesday, April 8, 2008. The baby with two faces, two noses, two pairs of lips and two pairs of eyes was born on March 11 in a northern Indian village, where she is doing well and is being worshipped as the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess, her father said Tuesday. Credit: AP Photo/Gurinder Osan

SAINI SUNPURA, India (AP) — A baby with two faces was born in a northern Indian village, where she is doing well and is being worshipped as the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess, her father said Tuesday.

The baby, Lali, apparently has an extremely rare condition known as craniofacial duplication, where a single head has two faces. Except for her ears, all of Lali's facial features are duplicated — she has two noses, two pairs of lips and two pairs of eyes.

"My daughter is fine — like any other child,'' said Vinod Singh, 23, a poor farm worker.

Lali has caused a sensation in the dusty village of Saini Sunpura, 25 miles east of New Delhi. When she left the hospital, eight hours after a normal delivery on March 11, she was swarmed by villagers, said Sabir Ali, the director of Saifi Hospital.

"She drinks milk from her two mouths and opens and shuts all the four eyes at one time,'' Ali said.

Rural India is deeply superstitious and the little girl is being hailed as a return of the Hindu goddess of valor, Durga, a fiery deity traditionally depicted with three eyes and many arms.

Up to 100 people have been visiting Lali at her home every day to touch her feet out of respect, offer money and receive blessings, Singh told The Associated Press.

"Lali is God's gift to us,'' said Jaipal Singh, a member of the local village council. "She has brought fame to our village.''

Village chief Daulat Ram said he planned to build a temple to Durga in the village.

"I am writing to the state government to provide money to build the temple and help the parents look after their daughter,'' Ram said.

Lali's condition is often linked to serious health complications, but the doctor said she was doing well.

"She is leading a normal life with no breathing difficulties,'' said Ali, adding that he saw no need for surgery.

Lali's parents were married in February 2007. Lali is their first child.

Singh said he took his daughter to a hospital in New Delhi where doctors suggested a CT scan to determine whether her internal organs were normal, but Singh said he felt it was unnecessary.

"I don't feel the need of that at this stage as my daughter is behaving like a normal child, posing no problems,'' he said.

By Gurindar Osan, Associated Press

Relationship breeds corruption

For two consecutive years, Thailand has earned a dubious distinction from two international organisations in charge of monitoring corruption in Asia and around the world.

In a poll released last Tuesday by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (Perc), the Philippines was named as the most corrupt Asian economy, followed by Thailand. The Philippines scored 9.0 out of a possible 10 points under a grading system used by Perc in which zero is the best score and 10 the worst. Thailand obtained a score of 8.0 after the military, which staged a coup in 2006, was seen to have failed to tackle the problem.

"The kingdom's economy has been marking time for two years while it sorts out political problems in which allegations of corruption figure prominently," said Perc.

The organisation polled 1,400 expatriates in January and February in 13 countries in Asia. Excluded were some notorious for corruption, such as Burma and Bangladesh. Singapore and Hong Kong retained their rankings as the cleanest economies, with scores of 1.13 and 1.80, respectively, followed by Japan (2.25), Macau (3.30), South Korea (5.65), Malaysia (6.37), Taiwan (6.55), India (7.25), Vietnam (7.75), China (7.98) and Indonesia (7.98).

Last year, global watchdog Transparency International said corruption in Thailand had worsened; the country slipped back from 11th place to 14th in the Asia-Pacific index and from 63rd to 84th in the overall 180-nation world index.

New Zealand was the "cleanest" of the 32 countries on the list for Asia and the Pacific, where most of the countries faced serious perceived levels of domestic corruption.

"The levels of corruption in these countries highlight the need for governments to engage more actively with civil society in fighting corruption," Transparency said.

Perc is more forthright in its analysis, particularly on Thailand, where "the close personal connections between politicians, civil servants, and businessmen are the backbone of networks of corruption that reach from the central government down to local governments."

This is exactly what Thai academics and non-governmental organisations have been telling us for years, and it explains why the problem is so difficult to solve.

According to the Asian Development Bank 2001, 79% of all businesses had to bribe Thai officials in order to obtain the desired service or to obtain a contract, and bribery costs were estimated to add 20% to the overall costs of a contract. An estimate made by the National Counter Corruption Commission calculates that up to 30% of government procurement budgets vanishes because of corrupt practices.

The National Institute of Development Administration reported that 95 mega-projects cost the state 400 billion baht solely due to corruption within the last five-and-a-half years. Bribery is particularly concentrated in a few governmental sectors in charge of large money transactions: the Land, Revenue, Customs and Transport departments and the National Police Office. Business people buy opportunities and favours, and officials sell opportunities and favours.

Meanwhile, the board memberships of Thai corporations are still characterised by an emphasis on personal connections over professional competence. High-ranking bureaucrats are commonly found on the boards of Thai companies.

Transparency is right in calling on civil society to fight actively against corruption in Thailand. But the rural masses must also be empowered to resist cash handouts while tough new anti-corruption measures must be enforced to break the interconnectedness between the business sector and the political system.

Couple Who Fight Live Longer

All couples fight, some more often than others, but many of them may be surprise to learn that the more they fight, the longer they may live, a new US study suggests as quoted by media reports on Friday.

Couple who suppress their anger have a mortality rate twice as high as those in which at least one partner stands up for themselves, according to the study which tracked 192 US couples for 17 years.

“The key matter is, when the conflict happens, how do you resolve it?” said the lead researcher Ernest Harburg, an emeritus professor with the University of Michigan. “When you don’t, if you bury your anger, and you brood on it and you resent the other person or the attacker, and you don’t try to resolve the problem, then you’re in trouble”.

The findings add to past research showing that the release of anger can be healthy. Individuals who express anger might also have a sense of control and optimism over a situation.

Bottled anger adds to stress, which tends to shorten lives, many past studies show.

In the current study, the authors suggest a combination of factors to explain the higher mortality rate for couples who don’t express their anger. These include “mutual anger suppression, poor communication (of feelings and issues) and poor problem-solving with medical consequences,” they write in the January issue of the Journal of Family Communication.

Over the 17-year period, Harburg and his colleagues studied 192 married couples in which spouses ranged in age from 35 to 69, focusing on aggressive behaviour considered unfair or undeserved by the person being “attacked”. Harburg said that if an attack is viewed as fair, the victim doesn’t tend to get angry.

The researchers found that 26 couples, meaning 52 individuals, were suppressors in which both partners held in their anger. Twenty-five percent of the suppressors died during the study period compared with about 12 percent for the other remaining couples.

In 27 percent of the suppressor couples, one member of the couple died during the study period, and in 23 percent of those couples, both died during the study period. That’s compared to only 6 percent of couples where both spouses died in the remaining three groups combined. Only 19 percent in remaining three groups combined saw one partner die during the study period.

Harburg says the results are preliminary, and his team is now collecting 30-year follow-up data. He expects the follow-up to show almost double the death rate compared with the preliminary findings.

Vientiane Times; January 28, 2006
[ Beijing (Xinhuanet) ]