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Friday, October 29, 2010

MIND & SPIRIT: Breathing right by breathing less

DID you know that breathing has a far greater impact on our physical, mental and emotional well-being than diet, exercise or sleep? According to Russian medical doctor Dr Konstantin Buteyko, most diseases of modern-day civilisation stem from over-breathing, or hyperventilation.

Since over-breathing is not obvious, it’s called hidden hyperventilation. Its symptoms include upper chest breathing, regular yawning, sighing, sniffing, large breaths prior to talking, panting, shortness of breath, and lack of stamina or endurance. Most of us don’t give the quality of our breathing much thought even though breathing is a fundamental part of our life. It’s only when something goes wrong with our breathing, or if we require breath training for sports, singing or a medical condition, that we stop to think about the way we breathe.

Breath is life. It’s the beginning of life, it sustains life, and no life remains when breath is gone.

Through the ages, the “breath of life” has been equated with the spirit or life force. The ancient world believed that the observation, awareness and the study of the breath were key to achieving physical, mental, emotional and spiritual mastery.

Shilpa Ghatalia, a Buteyko breath practitioner, says many of us don’t breathe naturally because of the constant pressure in our inner and outer lives. We habitually hyperventilate by taking quick, shallow breaths from the top of our chest. These quick, shallow breaths sharply reduce the level of carbon dioxide in our blood and decrease the flow of blood throughout the body. Then our “fight or flight” or stress reflexes will be switched on, making us tense, anxious and irritable. This also reduces our ability to think clearly and magnifies psychological and emotional problems. In this fast-paced society, we either breathe very fast or hold our breath as a coping mechanism. We have learnt to use breathing to cut ourselves off from uncomfortable feelings and sensations. By breathing shallowly, we generally feel less.

Causes of faulty breathing include: 1. Restrictive clothing: We impede our full range of breath by wearing belts or clothes that are too tight, limiting the natural movement of the abdomen.

2. Poor posture — a sunken chest, drooping shoulders, the habit of sucking in the belly to appear slimmer, excess tension in the face, neck, throat, shoulders and respiratory muscles.

3. Physical pain, illness or injury: We have a tendency to hold our breath when we’re in pain or facing any form of stress, be it psychological, emotional or physical.

4. Sedentary lifestyle: Lack of daily exercise, stretching and movement in our daily life conditions our breathing to a narrow range of movement. Many office workers sit immobile at their desks for hours each day.

Ghatalia says we can learn the correct way to breathe by watching how babies breathe. Babies breathe lightly with a relaxed abdomen and change their breathing in a fluid manner. Natural breathing involves the harmonious interplay of the lungs, diaphragm, belly, chest, back and other parts of the body.

Our belly needs to be supple so we can breathe naturally. It needs to be able to expand on inhalation and retract on exhalation. When the belly expands on inhalation, the diaphragm moves downward into the abdomen, allowing the lungs to expand more fully. When the belly retracts on exhalation, the diaphragm moves upward to help the lungs expel gases completely. The movements of the diaphragm and belly slow down our breath rate, take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide more efficiently and help to massage the internal organs. This internal massage has a positive impact on digestion, blood flow and the immune and nervous systems.

Ghatalia believes that authentic breathing such as the Buteyko breathing technique can influence the quality of exercise we get, the way we feel about ourselves, the type of food we eat, and the amount of energy we have, all of which will result in losing or gaining weight naturally.

This breathing technique was founded in the 1950s by Dr Buteyko with the goal of restoring health by retraining the breath to normalise breathing patterns and to induce diaphragmatic breathing. It is a series of breathing exercises to teach people how to breathe less.

It is said to be an effective drug-free approach for the management of asthma and other breathing-related problems.

6 teens, ustaz die in bus crash

Six secondary school students and their trip coordinator were killed when a chartered bus skidded and hit a divider before landing on its side on the the Genting slip road about 300m from Karak Highway last night.
The bus, ferrying 44 members of Pusat Belia 4B from Kampung Siong, Baling, Kedah, was on its way back from here when the accident happened at 7.50pm.

At least 17 others others were seriously in jured.

The dead were Form One student Mohammad Amirul Mohd, 13; Form Four students Muhamad Khairy Mo hammad and Mohd Firdaus Rosedi, both 16; Form Five students Mohd Ridzuan Husin, Mohamad Yusoff Akhis and Muhamad Fahmi Mustafa, all 17; and ustaz Mohd Zaidi Mohd Sufian, 28.
At press time, several fire engines and ambulances were at the scene.

Resorts World Berhad security personnel also helped to take the victims to the hospitals.

Federal Territory Fire and Rescue Department assistant director Azizan Ismail said the remaining passengers had minor injuries.

The bus driver, in his 40s, fractured his leg while his assistant escaped unhurt.

Azizan said two passengers were flung out of the bus on impact of the accident.

The bodies of the victims and the injured were taken to the Bentong, Kuala Lumpur and Selayang Hospitals.

Gombak police chief Assistant Commissioner Abdul Rahim Abdullah said the six boys died on the spot while Zaidi succumbed to his injuries on the way to Selayang Hospital.

Police believe faulty brakes caused the accident.

Co-driver Abdul Ghani Ahmad, 56, said he was asleep when the incident happened.

Muhammad Fais Nasharuddin, 18, and Ahmad Iswal Abdul Halim, 15, were in critical condition at Selayang Hospital.

Mohd Shamsuri and Mohd Ajril Azizi Azhari, both also 15; Mohd Akram, Muhammad Syakur Sulaiman and Mo hd Hafifi Yahya, all 19; Mohd Safwan Md Mokhtar, 20; Hafizudin Onan and Mohamad Nazren, both 16; and Faiz Syazwan Azlan and Mohd Azfar, both 18, who had minor injuries received treatment at the same hospital.

Mohd Zairul Hafizad Fadzil, 15, from Kampung Baru Mukim Siong, when met at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, said he and others, including Mohd Zaidi, screamed before the bus skidded and landed on its side.

“It was drizzling when the accident happened and we all were thrown all over the place in the bus.”

Mohd Zairul said his brother, 20, was also injured.

“An ustaz organised the trip and invited youths from several villages to take part. Each of us paid RM50 for the trip.”

He said the group left for the high lands about 11pm on Thursday and reached its destination at 8am.

“It was a whole-day sightseeing pro gramme and we left the place about 7pm for a homestay programme in Kampung Melayu Subang when the accident took place.

”We were supposed to visit the city (Kuala Lumpur) today and go home about at 5pm.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

'Massage can help people with cerebral palsy'

Traditional Chinese massage can help people with cerebral palsy, a physician from China said yesterday.
Dr Sun Yong said this after demonstrating traditional massage techniques on children at the Spastic Children's Association here.

He said this therapeutic technique had been practised for more than 4,000 years.

"The simple massage techniques were originally for children aged 12 and below to relieve common illnesses like constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion and fevers.
"It was later discovered that it could also help children suffering from cerebral palsy."

Cerebral palsy is a condition where small parts of the brain fail to develop properly during or after birth, affecting a patient's motor skills.

Since the condition could manifest in many forms, no two spastic children are alike. But common symptoms include loss of basic motor skills such as walking, speech and inability to express facial emotions.

"Since they cannot express their needs, parents of patients would have to be very observant and extra attentive of their children's needs."

He said by administering these massaging techniques, parents could ease or even prevent illnesses.

He said the advantage of this form of traditional Chinese healing over Western medical practice was that it did not involve medicine.

"Most children do not like to ingest pills or mixtures because of the taste. It is even harder for spastic children."

Read more: 'Massage can help people with cerebral palsy'

Zunar’s book breached guidelines, says minister

THE authorities decided to reject the application by cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque for a publishing permit for his book Gedung Kartun because it breached the guidelines of the Printing Press and Publications Act 1984.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the book could potentially harm public order and national security.
“The book’s contents had elements of prejudice and speculation, including baseless allegations that can invoke public hatred and anger towards the Government,” he said in a written reply to N. Gobalakrishnan (PKR - Padang Serai).
The cartoonist, also known as Zunar, was arrested last month under the Sedition Act for publishing books considered detrimental to public order.
Police also raided his office in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, on Sept 24 and seized 70 copies of his latest book Cartoon-o-phobia, hours before it was scheduled to be launched.
The ministry also banned his three other books – 1 Funny Malaysia, Perak Darul Kartun and Isu Dalam Kartun.
On Oct 9, Zulkiflee obtained leave to challenge a decision to ban two comic books written by him.
On a separate matter, Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia rejected an emergency motion from Chong Chieng Jen (DAP - Bandar Baru Kuching) for a debate on the issue of a timber company which was involved in an alleged land grab from the Ibans.
Pandikar Amin said the matter was under the state’s jurisdiction.

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Rock that gave Batu Sapi its name a reminder for polls contenders

A legend surrounding a unique seaside rock formation that gave the Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency its name may serve as a reminder to the three contenders in the seat’s by-election.
Growing up in the village of Kampung Gas nearby, Ambulang Along, 50, frequently heard stories from the elders in his Sabah east coast Bajau community of how the rock formation came to be.
The rock formation is located some 20km from downtown Sandakan.
“According to my ancestors, there was once a buffalo and a salt water crocodile who were friends. The buffalo would come to graze near the seaside and chat with his friend, the crocodile.
“One day, while grazing the buffalo decided to take a walk in the sea. Upon seeing this, the crocodile became offended and accused the buffalo of stepping into his territory,” said Ambulang.
This caused the friends to argue and they failed to realise that the sky had turned dark and clouds had begun to gather.
“Suddenly, a flash of lightning struck the buffalo and the crocodile and they turned into rock,” said Ambulang, now employed by the Sandakan Municipal Council that maintains the small park surrounding the well-known landmark.
He said that while the three-legged rock was instantly recognisable, not many people were aware that there was actually a flat and smaller rock formation beside it.
“Our grandparents would always remind us about the story of the buffalo and the crocodile if we got into arguments with our friends.
“Friends should always care for each other and resolve any differences amicably. That is always the better way,” he added.
And Ambulang’s hope is that once the by-election is over, friendship will once again thrive in his constituency.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wisma Putra: Malaysians safe

No Malaysians have been killed or injured in the two devastating natural disasters which ripped Indonesia early this week. Wisma Putra, which confirmed this yesterday, however, said as a safety precaution, the Malaysian embassy evacuated 41 students and their relatives from the Islamic school Pesantren Sirajul Mukhlasi in Magelang late yesterday night.

Only Muhamad Izzuddin Muhamad Nazeri, also a student at the school, flew home yesterday.

A 7.7-magnitude earthquake rocked the Mentawai islands in western Sumatra on Monday, triggering a tsunami which killed at least 154 people with hundreds more missing.
The next day, Indonesia's most volatile volcano Mount Merapi in Jawa erupted, smothering the city of Yogyakarta with thick ash and killing at least 25 people.

Officials at Wisma Putra said they were working with the Indonesian government to ensure that every citizen was safe.

It is understood that the authorities are working to ensure Malaysian students in Gadjah Mada University, which is near Yogyakarta, are safe and accounted for.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to volcanic activities and earthquakes due to its position in the Pacific Ring of Fire.

The fault that ruptured on Monday also caused the 9.1-magnitude earthquake in 2004, which unleashed a deadly tsunami, which killed more than 200,000 people in the early morning of Boxing Day.

The sacred Mount Merapi on neighbouring island Jawa has its fair share of victims, too.

Four years ago, the volcano rumbled and spewed lava, forcing thousands to run for their lives.

In previous eruptions in 1994, the mountain sent a searing gas cloud that burned 60 people to death. About 1,300 people were killed when the volcano erupted in 1930.

While a big eruption is still possible, experts expected the explosions to be less violent.

The BBC reported that Indonesian government vulcanologist Subandrio said volcanic activity appeared to have subsided based on the recordings of the levels of hot ash in the air.

However, he said he expected more eruptions soon, although there was no way of telling when or how big they would be.

Non-governmental organisation Mercy Malaysia will send a two-member Rapid Assessment Team to Padang, Indonesia, today before heading to Mentawai islands.

The team is led by Mercy Malaysia executive council member Norazam Ab Samah, accompanied by medical coordinator Che Tah Hanafi. They will be conducting an on-the-ground assessment to determine the humanitarian needs in the region devastated by the tsunami.

"Our initial disaster assessment team will ascertain the situation on the ground, and most importantly, the health needs of the tsunami-affected people.

"Only then can we get an accurate picture of how to best help the emergency response on the ground there," said Mercy Malaysia president Datuk Dr Ahmad Faizal Mohd Perdaus.

"We are being constantly updated by our local Indonesian volunteer, Azrim Mirza, who is stationed in Medan, and with his assistance, our team can be more efficient and cost-effective," he said.

Read more: Wisma Putra: Malaysians safe

hippo and dog

It's beyond govt's control

MALAYSIA'S score on Transparency International's (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2010 is disappointing as the government has done "what is humanly possible" to fight graft, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz said yesterday. He said there were certain high- profile cases which were "beyond" the government's control.

TI president Datuk Paul Low had said on Tuesday that Malaysia's corruption score had dropped from 4.5 per cent last year to 4.4 this year.

He added that the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) fiasco and the "Lingam tape" scandals had adversely affected public perception of corruption in the country, leading to the drop in the corruption score.
Nazri said there was nothing the government could do on some matters.

"Unless, of course, TI wants us to interfere with the judiciary and direct the judiciary to have a quick hearing and also to convict those charged. I don't think that's what TI wants," the minister in charge of law and parliament said yesterday.

"So, to be honest, as for PKFZ, there's nothing we can do."

He added that as long as the case was not resolved, the perception would remain that the country was not doing much to fight corruption.

On the case involving senior lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam, he said the matter was in the attorney-general's hands.

"In my opinion, there's nothing to charge Lingam with because there is no proof that he had influenced the appointment of judges and there was no element of corruption because he was not caught with money.

"We can't simply charge Lingam just to get an increase of 0.1 or 0.2 in our corruption perception score.

"You cannot charge somebody when no offence was committed."

He said that since Lingam had not been charged, the perception was that Malaysia had not done enough as far as corruption was concerned.

On the open tender system, the Padang Renggas member of parliament said he would push for it to be implemented to improve transparency.

"Direct negotiations should also be stopped. That, we can do."

Asked about Datuk Seri Najib Razak's statement on Monday that not all projects had to go through open tender system, Nazri added that the prime minister had his own reasons for saying so and this was probably because the government wanted to speed up certain projects.

"But I think we can make it transparent by revealing details to the public such as the value of contracts offered and to whom the projects were awarded to."

Read more: Nazri: It's beyond govt's control

Bin Laden warns France over veil ban, Afghan war

DUBAI: Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden warned France yesterday that its planned ban on the veil in public places and its involvement in the war in Afghanistan justified violence against its nationals.
France expressed concern and insisted on the need for vigilance, adding however that authorities were verifying the authenticity of the remarks.

In an audio recording aired by Al-Jazeera television, Bin Laden said last month’s kidnapping of seven foreigners, five of them French, in the Sahara desert in northern Niger was a warning.

“How could you take part in occupying our countries and support the Americans in killing our children and women, and then expect to live in peace and security?” Bin Laden asked.
“It is very simple — as you kill, you will be killed, as you take hostages, you will be taken hostages, and as you compromise our security, we will compromise your security,” he said in the message, which lasted 1 minute 55 seconds.

The Al-Qaeda leader warned the French government to pull its troops out of Afghanistan.

“The way to protect your security is to bring your tyranny against our nation to an end, most importantly to withdraw from the damned war of (former US president George W.) Bush in Afghanistan,” he said.

Responding to the message, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said France is under “real” terror threat which needs “total vigilance.”

“We do know that the (terrorist) threat is real and vigilance must be total,” Hortefeux told a National Assembly meeting in Paris.

“Based on what we currently know, these declarations only justify maintaining our response based on the terrorist threat,” he said, referring to France’s Vigipirate national security system which is now red alert — one down from the highest scarlet level.

Hortefeux — who earlier this month said that Saudi security forces warned about an Al-Qaeda threat to Europe and to France in particular — said authorities were verifying the authenticity of the remarks.

“Supposing they’re authentic they would be part of various threats that have been made against our country and our nationals, abroad and in France.”

The seven hostages — five French nationals, a Togolese and a Madagascan — were seized in a Niger uranium-mining town on the night of September 15-16.

They are believed by intelligence agents in countries concerned to be held in an area of the Sahara desert in neighbouring Mali.

“The kidnapping of your experts in Niger... is in retaliation for the tyranny you practice against our Muslim nation,” Bin Laden said of the abductions, which have been claimed by Al-Qaeda’s North African branch.

The message broadcast by Al-Jazeera was accompanied by a still photo of Bin Laden and a blurred picture of what appears to be policemen pulling off a woman’s veil to reveal her hair.

Bin Laden, who is believed hiding out in remote mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan, highlighted the French parliament’s passing of a law last month banning the wearing of a full-face veil in public.

The ban, which will come into force early next year if it is not overturned by senior judges, triggered criticism in some Muslim countries, with Islamic authorities in Asia warning that it could spark a violent backlash.

“As you wrongly have decided that you have the right to ban Muslim women from wearing the veil, is it not our right to drive out your conquerors by killing them?” Bin Laden asked.

Paris-based expert on Middle Eastern Islamist groups, Dominique Thomas, told AFP that the message was also a “blessing” to the Al-Qaeda jihadists who carried out the kidnappings.

“By sending this message to France, Bin Laden also sends a message to... militants to thank them for the kidnapping,” Thomas told AFP. “It’s like a blessing.”

“In his message, Bin Laden is saying: France undermines the values of Islam, so we injure its interests,” said the French expert.

“Today there is a real stigma against France, considered by Al-Qaeda as one of the major enemies of Islam and the Ummah (Islamic nation), along with the United States and Israel,” he said.

The last message from the elusive Al-Qaeda chief was in early October, when he issued a call for aid to flood victims in Pakistan. -- AFP

Job Descriptions and Qualification Factors

A Psychological Operations Specialist is an information and media specialist who can assess the information needs of a target population and develop and deliver the right message at the right time and place to create the intended result. The Psychological Operations Specialist is primarily responsible for the analysis, development and distribution of information used for information and psychological effect.

Duties performed by PSYOPS community include:

Trains and maintains proficiency in all major duties. Assists in collection and reporting psychological operations related information and processing that information into intelligence to support psychological operations. Assists in evaluating and analyzing current intelligence, psychological operations studies and estimates to determine psychological operations targets. Operates psychological operations dissemination equipment and assists in the delivery of psychological operations products. Assists in the packing of psychological operations products for delivery by various means. Prepares, stores and retrieves information on psychological operations related intelligence, plans, campaigns and products. Assists and performs intelligence functions as required.

Coordinates resources requirements for the development, production and dissemination of PSYOP productions. Assists in the integration of psychological operations planning in support of conventional, special operations and deception planning. Assists in determining the appropriate mix of media, relative to available assets, to disseminate PSYOP products. Evaluates and analyze current intelligence, psychological operation studies and estimates to determine psychological operation targets. Identifies psychological vulnerabilities and susceptibilities of psychological operation targets.