Thursday, January 31, 2013

14 Endangered Elephants Dead in Malaysia

This is a really disturbing news to read... It's another man made disaster of the nature and animals, just mainly for their selfishness, profits and greed.


Pygmy Elephants' Protection Was Slated Through Forest Reserve Designation In Malaysia, Says WWF

AP  |  By By EILEEN NG Posted:

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — More than a dozen pygmy elephants found dead and possibly poisoned in Malaysian forests were in reserves slated to be converted into plantations, the wildlife group WWF said Thursday, raising the prospect that they were deliberately killed by humans taking over their habitat.

Authorities found the carcass of another endangered Borneo pygmy elephant, believed to have been dead for two weeks, in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve late Wednesday, marking the 14th such death since December.

The elephants are feared to have been poisoned because they encroached on Malaysian plantations, giving fresh urgency to activists' warnings of rising conflict between man and wildlife as development accelerates.

The WWF said the dead elephants were found in areas where forests were being converted for plantations within permanent forest reserves.

"The central forest landscape in Sabah needs to be protected totally from conversion," the group said in a statement.

"Conversions result in fragmentation of the forests, which in turn results in loss of natural habitat for elephant herds, thus forcing them to find alternative food and space, putting humans and wildlife in direct conflict," the WWF said.

Sabah, one of two Malaysian states on Borneo island, is home to endangered animals including the pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros and orangutan. 

Wildlife activists say their numbers have dwindled in recent decades because of illegal poaching and the loss of jungles cut down for timber and development.

Although Malaysia is increasingly industrialized, large-scale agriculture and forestry are important sources of employment and revenue for many rural households. Some 60 percent of Sabah state is currently under forest cover, but activists say the deforestation rate is rising, with large forest areas slated for conversion to farmland or timber concession.

The first 10 known deaths of the pygmy elephants were made public this week, capturing wide attention as only about 1,200 of the elephants exist worldwide. 

Authorities released several photographs of the elephant carcasses, including a particularly poignant one of a 3-month-old surviving calf trying to wake its dead mother. The male calf was taken to a Sabah wildlife park and appeared healthy.

Sabah wildlife director Laurentius Ambu said Thursday that the area where the dead elephants were found is part of a 100,000-acre (40,469-hectare) piece of "commercial forest reserve" land managed by state agency Sabah Foundation. 

He said the area was slated to be used as a tree plantation for sustainable logging. So far, two palm oil plantations and a logging company operate in the area, he said.

Sabah is one of the poorest states in Malaysia. Sabah Foundation was granted huge forest concessions, totaling about 14 percent of total land area in Sabah, by the state government to enable it to generate income to fund its aim of improving the lives of poor rural people.

The Sabah Foundation website said it had adopted sound forest management policies to ensure the areas are managed on a sustainable basis.

Ambu said far too many jungle areas in Sabah were being broken up by agricultural or logging activities, without corridors linking them to allow animals to pass through.

"This shouldn't be. The fragmentation of forests has disrupted the elephants' traditional routes to look for food," he told The Associated Press. "It is highly suspected that the poisoning is blatantly done or that it's a well-planned program."

Department veterinarians have said the dead elephants, believed to belong to a single herd, suffered severe bleeding and gastrointestinal ulcers.

Police are investigating the deaths and officials have declined to say whether there are any suspects.

Ambu said there were a few cases in the past where elephants were found poisoned to death on plantations, but not on such a large scale.

Most of the pygmy elephants live in Sabah and grow to about 8 feet (245 centimeters) tall, a foot or two shorter than mainland Asian elephants. Known for their babyish faces, large ears and long tails, Borneo pygmy elephants were found to be a distinct subspecies only in 2003, after DNA testing.



Rare pygmy elephants found dead in Malaysia                

Carcasses of at least 14 endangered elephants found this month, as officials say pesticides likely reason for deaths.
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2013 12:47  
Source: AlJazeera                                           

(Note: There are 5 pictures in the slides. Click the arrow to see the next photo)

Four endangered pygmy elephants have been found dead in Malaysia, adding to the 10 carcasses discovered earlier this month, according to wildlife officials.

Laurentius Ambu, the wildlife department director of the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island, told the AFP news agency on Wednesday that probably the elephants had ingested poison spread by oil palm plantation workers to keep "pests" from eating the palm fruit.

Ambu told Al Jazeera that more carcasses could turn up, since the elephants usually travel in herds numbering up to dozens.

"I have a hunch there may be more dead animals," he said, adding that wildlife department staff were combing the area. "I don't think it's an accident," he earlier told AFP.

Ambu said the three highly decomposed carcasses were found in Sabah's remote Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, not far from where officials found the 10 other dead pygmy elephants, a rare sub-species of the Asian elephant. All the animals were found within a 10-square-kilometre radius, he said.

A preliminary post-morterm showed bloating in the gastrointestinal area, and bleeding from the nose and mouth.

Masidi Manjun, the state's tourism minister, confirmed the number of elephants killed, saying that while authorities suspected that they had been poisoned, they were still awaiting a final chemical report.

On Tuesday, state officials released photos of the original 10 pachyderms, including one of a baby elephant nuzzling its dead mother.

Ambu confirmed that the young elephant has remained unharmed and has been taken to a wildlife park in the state.

He told Al Jazeera that the six-month old elephant was "responding quite positively" to treatment, and that she still had some dry skin and abrasions.

Forest conversion
The chemists' report on the 14 dead animals is due to be issued next week and could reveal the cause of their deaths.

Recent reports suggest that all the deaths have occurred in areas where forests are being converted into plantations within the country's permanent forest reserves.

According to the WWF-Malaysia, an estimated 1,200 Borneo pygmy elephants, which are smaller and have more rounded features than full-sized Asian elephants, are left in the wild.

In a statement, Dr Dionysius S K Sharma, WWF-Malaysia's executive director, said: "Conversions result in fragmentation of the forests, which in turn results in loss of natural habitat for elephant herds, thus forcing them to find alternative food and space, putting humans and wildlife in direct conflict."

"Frequent and large scale patrolling is critical to avoid such conflict from happening again. However, given the vast area that requires patrolling, it is a massive task for the Sabah Wildlife Department. More resources, including manpower, hardware and finances, should be allocated for the department," he said.


Al Jazeera and agencies


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Top 10 Countries to Retire in 2013

Have you ever thought about retiring in your own country or migrating to a country which offers lower living standard compared to the developed countries? Most retirees choose to stretch their retirement savings in other countries which provide some attractive packages like, low daily living expenses like, food, accommodation, accessibility by cars and public transportation, as well as accessing to cheaper and better medical healthcare besides considering about the weather, culture and language barrier.

For the past few years, many foreign retirees from Europe, the U.S, Singapore, Japan etc. are migrating to my home country, Malaysia because it's well-known for cheap food, cheap housing to rent/buy and better access to healthcare facilities which is cheaper than in their home countries. There are always two (double) sided of coins wherever you work and live. You will encounter some flaws between the benefits/advantages (good) and problems/disadvantages (bad) from a country's system (regulations), governments and politicians but this doesn't affect the foreigners and retirees to migrate to a better place for their families and themselves. Nothing is totally perfect with the system and government in any countries.

The 10 Best Countries to Retire to in 2013

Leadership 1/04/2013 @ 11:25AM  Jacquelyn Smith, Forbes Staff  Source: Forbes

No. 1: Ecuador is the best country to retire. (Photo: Jilia Davila-Lampe/Getty Images) & (Source:

Planning to retire abroad? Ecuador is the top spot for North American retirees, according to’s newly-released Annual Global Retirement Index 2013.

This is Ecuador’s fifth consecutive year at the top of the heap.

This annual Index—now in its 22nd year–ranks the best international retirement destinations. To compile the ranking, editors collated data from its team of experts on the ground in the most popular countries among U.S. and Canadian expat retirees. Editors assessed factors ranging from the price of groceries and average temperature, to utility costs and the friendliness of locals.

The information was then used to score each of the top countries out of 100 in categories such as “Real Estate,” “Climate,” “Special Benefits for Retirees” and “Health Care.

“It’s designed to help readers compare and contrast what we believe are the best options for retirement abroad in 2013,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor of International Living magazine.
“Ecuador is such an overwhelmingly attractive choice for retirees overseas today in part because your dollars really stretch there,” Stevens says. “You could live comfortably for $1,600 a month, rent included. The values extend to real estate, as well. A condo right on the coast that might cost you $1 million or more in California, you could have for less than $150,000 along Ecuador’s northern Pacific. We have readers who bought a little mountain place as well as an apartment overlooking the water and split their time between the two. They could never have afforded to do something like that in the States.”

The South American country offers great variety in lifestyle options, she adds. You have sunny beaches, temperate mountain villages, college towns where there are plenty of cultural offerings, and historic colonial cities. “This country rolls out the red carpet for its seniors, as well—offering benefits like 50% off international airfares and cultural events. Plus Ecuadorians are welcoming, friendly, and easy-going. It’s a friendly place to launch an adventure in retirement.”

Panama lands in second place (Source:

Panama earned the No. 2 spot in the 2013 Retirement Index, while Malaysia rounded out the top three.

“Panama is just plain easy,” Stevens says. “Panama City is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with great restaurants, and excellent hospitals. It’s a banking and commercial hub so you find a real international community there. Panama is committed to attracting foreign retirees and offers the world’s best incentive program to do so, making it convenient and easy to get residence there.”

Like Ecuador, the cost of living in Panama is significantly lower than what you’d expect back home. “A budget of $1,700 to $2,500 a month, housing included, would see you eating out, perhaps with a housekeeper a couple days a week, movies a few times a month, and so on.”

Malaysia ranks at third as retirement haven (Source:

In the world’s No. 3 retirement haven, Malaysia, English is widely spoken as the unofficial first language, making it easier for North American retirees to transition.

Asia’s top retirement destination is also exotic and far away—but it is incredibly affordable. “Talk about a place where you can step up in your lifestyle without blowing your budget,” Stevens says. “Our contributing editor there says that he and his wife rent a sea-view apartment in Penang that comes with a pool and gym for $1,000 a month. They keep a small sailboat, eat out five nights a week, have a maid that comes once a week – and do it all for $1,700 a month.”

Another perk: Malaysia is a ‘medical tourism’ destination, so you can count on excellent care that’ll run you less than half of what you’d pay in the U.S., she says. “Plus, unlike elsewhere in Asia, in Malaysia you can buy property, land, houses, and condominiums freehold.”

The most attractive retirement havens aren’t just cheap; they’re welcoming places where you can integrate into the community, she adds. “They’re safe. They’re attractive. They provide the diversions you want, which could be anything from snorkeling to the opera, depending on your interests.”

But of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all destination. You really have to think about your own priorities and what you really want. “The beach? Maybe–but it might be too hot. A small village? Maybe–but if you have health issues to consider, you may want to be in a bigger community,” Stevens says.

“Retiring abroad isn’t for everyone,” she adds. “The happiest expats we meet overseas have one thing in common: They brought their sense of adventure with them. They went overseas ready to try new things, to be confounded, to be impressed, to be surprised. Living overseas works best when you’re pulled there and not just pushed. If your motivation for going abroad is entirely economic, brace yourself for disappointment.”

Also, remember that it doesn’t have to be a full-time endeavor. You don’t have to sell everything and upend your life to enjoy an international lifestyle in a good-value haven somewhere exotic in the world, Stevens concludes. “Go for a month, three months, six months. In a good-value destination, you could spend less on the whole of your everyday needs than you would on just heat alone back home.”

Mexico at the fourth place for being rated as the top 10 best countries to retire (Source:
Costa Rica
Costa Rica at the fifth place


Uruguay at the sixth position (Source:

Columbia at the seventh position (Source:

Spain at the eighth position (Source:

Thailand at the ninth position (Source:


Malta ranks at the tenth position (Source:


Monday, January 14, 2013

Chinese Angry over Worst Pollution in Beijing, China

Public anger at the Government's discrepancy data reading and slow action to tackle the problems of the worst reading of the air pollution which hits beyond the World Health Organisation's safe limit chart in Beijing, China.

China pollution anger spills into state media

Public anger in China at dangerous levels of air pollution, which blanketed Beijing in acrid smog, spread Monday as state media queried official transparency and the nation's breakneck development.

The media joined Internet users in calling for a re-evaluation of China's modernisation process, which has seen rapid urbanisation and dramatic economic development at the expense of the environment.

Dense smog shrouded large swathes of northern China at the weekend, cutting visibility to 100 metres (yards) in some areas and forcing flight cancellations. Reports said dozens of building sites and a car factory in the capital halted work as an anti-pollution measure.

Doctors at two of the city's major hospitals said the number of patients with respiratory problems had increased sharply in the past few days, state media reported.

"Now it has been dark with pollution for three days, at least people are starting to realise how important the environment is," said one posting on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

At the height of the smog Beijing authorities said readings for PM2.5 -- particles small enough deeply to penetrate the lungs -- hit 993 micrograms per cubic metre, almost 40 times the World Health Organisation's safe limit.

Experts quoted by state media blamed low winds, saying fog had mixed with pollutants from vehicles and factories and had been trapped by mountains north and west of Beijing. Coal burning in winter was also a factor, they added.

In an editorial Monday the state-run Global Times called for more transparent figures on pollution and urged the government to change its "previous method of covering up the problems and instead publish the facts".

Officials in China have a long history of covering up environmental and other problems.

Earlier this month a chemical spill into a river was only publicly disclosed five days after it happened, and authorities were widely criticised for initially denying the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003.

Official PM2.5 statistics have only been released for China's biggest conurbations since the beginning of last year, and expanded to cover 74 cities earlier this month.

The tightly-controlled media has previously raised concerns over health problems linked to industrialisation. Observers say the statistics' increasing availability has forced them to confront the issue more directly.

The Xinhua state news agency criticised the "pollutant belt" that had spread across the country and warned that the authorities' stated goal of building a "beautiful China" was in jeopardy.

"A country with a brown sky and hazardous air is obviously not beautiful," it said.

"The environmental situation facing the country will be increasingly challenging," it said. "There is no reason to be too optimistic."

On Monday the Ministry of Environmental Protection announced measures to tackle the problem.

It pledged to limit vehicle exhaust emissions and promote the use of clean energy as well as step up the development of public transport systems in urban areas, state news agency Xinhua said.

The environmental watchdog also asked local authorities to increase their analysis of air pollution and publicise the results quickly as part of an early warning system for air quality, Xinhua reported.

Smog levels eased in the capital Monday, with the national monitoring centre putting the PM2.5 AQI figure at 183, or "light pollution", in the evening -- although the US embassy gave it a "hazardous" 335.

Levels remained high in many parts of China, with PM 2.5 AQI standing at 405 in Zhengzhou south of Beijing and 342 in Xian to the southwest.

Share prices of environment-related companies surged, with face mask producer Shanghai Dragon soaring by its 10 percent daily limit.

The smog dominated discussion on Sina Weibo. "This pollution is making me so angry," said one user, posting a picture of herself wearing a face mask.


Chinese, US Air Quality Index not the same
Global Times | 2013-1-13 23:18:01
By Zhang Yiqian  

Record pollution obscures visibility at Chang'an Avenue in Xidan.  Photo: Li Hao/GT
Record pollution obscures visibility at Chang'an Avenue in Xidan. Photo: Li Hao/GT 

As Beijing chokes on its worst air pollution on record, observers may have noticed that the numbers from the city's new Air Quality Index are consistently lower than the numbers released by the US embassy.

However, Chinese experts say that this discrepancy was expected, because the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center is using a slightly different method to calculate the index, which it started publishing on January 1. In addition, the scale the Chinese are using stops at 500, while the US embassy is publishing higher readings.

It is difficult to compare the US embassy and Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center's measurements of PM2.5, deadly fine particulate matter that is one component of air pollution measured by the AQI. The center does not keep a record online, but only shows the reading for the current hour. A spokesperson refused to give the data to the Global Times, referring the reporter to the website.

At 3 pm Sunday the PM2.5 reading at the center's Agricultural Exhibition Center was 271, compared to a reading of 323 at the US embassy, about 1.5 kilometers away. At 7 pm, the reading was 290, compared to 343 at the US embassy. The environmental monitoring center uses 35 stations around the greater metropolitan area to gather pollution data, with both higher and lower readings than the embassy's.

Questions about how the government measures air pollution are deadly serious. A study by Peking University and environmental NGO Greenpeace published last month says air pollution led to 2,349 deaths in Beijing in 2010, and the authors expect deaths in 2012 to reach 2,589 if the pollution level doesn't change. In 2007, a scientist complained that a World Bank report omitted data that found 750,000 people die prematurely across China from pollution.

Qiu Qihong, an engineer of the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center, said US and China use the same function to determine AQI figures from six different pollutants. However, he explained that the UStates uses a stricter system to determine what numbers to plug into the AQI formula. The formula requires a range of values of PM2.5 to calculate the number, and the US and China are using different ways to determine this range.

Qiu explained, "The US uses a stricter system because their society is further along in the industrialization process."

This is why when PM2.5 density is transferred to AQI figures, the two countries have different readings, Qiu said.

For example, according to the standards published by both countries, if the PM2.5 density reaches 15.4 micrograms per cubic meter, according to US standards, the matching AQI figure is 50. But under Chinese standards, the density needs to reach 35 micrograms per cubic meter.

Zhou Rong, climate and energy director of Greenpeace, said there might be a small difference between the figures and it shouldn't raise serious questions. She also supplied another reason for the value difference.

"There are two steps of getting the AQI values. First you need equipment to measure PM2.5 density in the air, and the technical standards are different between US and China, so there might be a data deviation," she said.

The NGO Green Beagle, frustrated with a lack of transparency by the government, started training citizens how to collect their own PM2.5 data in 2011. He Xiaoxia, a representative of the group, said the group could not provide its own data to compare to the government's own data.

"We don't have data these few days, we'll have it in a couple of days. But the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center has been updating their data. As of now we can only trust their data, the center has professional equipment and monitors in professional ways, it must be expert, why not trust their data? Our data, on the other hand, is only for reference."

Zhou from Greenpeace praised the authorities' decision to release PM2.5 data as a big improvement in air quality monitoring.

She doesn't question the data, but notes there are still issues to be dealt with.

"The problem is now we have the data, the real diagnosis, how do we improve the situation. That hasn't been brought up completely on the local government's agenda," she said.

The government did set a goal, but it's unlikely to reach it. In early December, the Ministry of Environmental Protection announced there should be a reduction of 6 percent in the level of PM2.5 pollution in Beijing.

In December, Zhou told the Global Times the goal of a 6 percent reduction might not be attainable, saying, "Given the harsh fact that the average annual intensity of PM2.5 particles in most Chinese cities always exceeds the national standards, the expectation of improving air quality by 6 percent is still elusive."

"The next step is to open up to the public on how to control the pollution, timeline and standards," she said.

Beijing's new Air Quality Index that came into effect on January 1 replaces an opaque system put into place last year that measured PM2.5 using a scale that was hard to understand.

The goal of the new AQI was to make air pollution readings more transparent. It came after years of refusing to measure PM2.5, hiding the true extent of air pollution.

Efforts by the Global Times to determine how the authorities calculate the AQI have been stonewalled by environmental officials at the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau and Ministry of Environmental Protection.

On Sunday, Qiu directed the Global Times to a report called "Technical Regulation on Ambient Air Quality Index (on trial)," detailing how the index is calculated, on the official site for the China National Environmental Monitoring Center.

Qiu also explained why the index stops at 500.

"We consulted the standard in US and Europe when making the Chinese one. The American scale also stops at 500 according to standard, because 500 is a pretty high ceiling and can't be reached."

Qiu noted, "According to standard, the US embassy should only publish 'above 500' and not an actual number." On Saturday the center's daily reading was 500, and the US embassy's daily reading was 545. The embassy's hourly readings topped out at 886. 


Cities react to outrage over air pollution
Global Times | 2013-1-15 0:58:01
By Yan Shuang and Yin Yeping

Public outrage over the choking smog that has blanketed a large part of China for more than 10 days has prompted many cities to shut down factories, ban the use of officials' cars and attempt artificial precipitation.

Beijing's environmental authority has ordered a temporary halt in the operations of factories owned by 58 companies, including chemical companies and car manufacturer Hyundai. They have also been asked to cut down on pollution, officials said in a media briefing on Monday.

Some 30 percent of the capital's official vehicles will be banned from the roads on heavily polluted days to cut down on emissions, the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau announced.

"Traffic authorities will be monitoring these banned vehicles via their database and surveillance cameras," Fang Li, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, told the press.

The ban started on Saturday, when the city's PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameters) Air Quality Index (AQI) readings exceeded 700, far beyond the upper limit of 500.

The US consulate in Shanghai defines PM2.5 levels of 200 to 300 as "very unhealthy," stating that young children, the elderly and those with lung conditions should stay indoors.

Fang said that the carbon emissions from traffic and industrial factories, the local climate conditions, and the impact of pollution from Tianjin and Hebei Province are three major causes of the sudden deterioration in Beijing's air quality.

The smog has led to record-high air pollution readings, an increasing number of respiratory disease patient admissions and disrupted traffic across the country, including areas of Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Anhui, Jiangsu and Sichuan provinces.

According to Xinhua, a traffic accident on the Shanghai-Kunming expressway Sunday, which killed one and injured nine, was related to the heavy smog. In addition, Dezhou, in Shandong Province, experienced a 30 percent higher rate of traffic accidents over the weekend.

Amid public demands for more rapid government action on pollution control, several cities have released plans since the weekend. Many however, have yet to take any action.

In some cities, such as Beijing and Shijiazhuang, some schools have cancelled outdoor activities due to the heavy pollution, and the government of Zhengzhou has started tougher inspections of construction sites and coal power plants to reduce emissions and dust.

Environmental and meteorological authorities in Nanjing, where the air pollution has been severe for nine days, have been trying to stimulate artificial rainfall to ease the pollution.

Nanjing's environmental officials also proposed a pollution-control plan to the municipal government, suggesting the activation of temporary traffic restrictions during heavily polluted weather, according to the Yangtse Evening Post.

The smog in most places will last until January 16, the National Meteorological Center said.

Pan Xiaochuan, a professor of public heath with Peking University, told the Global Times plans to deal with extreme pollution should have been established before the situation occurred so people could prepare for the worst.

Currently, environmental protection laws are still not well enforced, while governments in different cities should enhance cooperation on pollution monitoring and control, Pan said, "or else China could have an outbreak of pollution-related social unrest and protests over heath issues."


Smog could aggravate winter flu, say experts
Global Times | 2013-1-14 23:33:01
By Xie Wenting

A line of anxious relatives looks over patients on drips at Beijing Children’s Hospital Monday. Photo: CFP
A line of anxious relatives looks over patients on drips at Beijing Children’s Hospital Monday. Photo: CFP
Medical experts have told the Global Times they worry the recent severe pollution in Beijing may exacerbate the annual winter flu outbreak.
This winter, the main flu strain is still A(H1N1), often referred to as "swine flu" since it first broke out in Mexico in 2009. 

According to the latest release from the Beijing Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), three people have died of A(H1N1) strain of flu since January 1.

"The three patients had other diseases like cancer and asthma," said Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of the CDC. 

While the three patients died before the extreme pollution that has afflicted the capital since Friday, Pang said the smoggy conditions now will exacerbate the spread of A(H1N1), as it will negatively impact people's ability to resist the virus. 

"There are pollutants which are harmful to the respiratory tract and the cardiovascular system. And it's easier for the little PM2.5 particles to get deep inside the respiratory tract, which will aggravate the illnesses of patients who have diseases like asthma and pneumonia. So people's ability to resist the flu virus will be degraded," Pang said.   

In addition, it is hard for respiratory viruses, including the flu, to disperse when the air is stale and has more pollutants, she said. 

"If a flu patient sneezes, the virus in the smoggy air will stay for a longer time than usual. So other people passing by have a higher possibility of breathing the virus in," noted Pang. 

A nurse, surnamed Cheng, from Beijing Hospital in Dongcheng district, said that the number of patients seeking flu treatment has risen, and their staff has been affected.  

"We are short-staffed more than usual now due to flu," she said. 

"People have to wait for about two hours on the waiting list to see emergency doctors here while in ordinary days, the waiting time is just about half an hour," Cheng said. 

Doctor Zhong Nanshan, renowned Chinese respiratory disease expert and  head of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases in the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical College, told the Global Times that there is no proof that PM2.5 particles can transmit the flu virus.

"However, for patients who catch it, breathing the particles will aggravate the disease, because PM2.5 can penetrate the respiratory tract, and also the [lung] alveoli. For those who have other diseases, their ability to resist the virus will be lowered," said Zhong.

Ma Yanming, media officer of Beijing Municipal Health Bureau, agreed that the conditions could be harmful. 

"However, we don't have any figures for the A(H1N1) patients because we can't survey all flu patients," said Ma.

Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center showed that on Saturday, PM2.5 was over 700 micrograms per cubic meter at some stations, and peaked at over 900 micrograms per cubic meter in some areas. 

The World Health Organization indicates that PM2.5 over 25 micrograms per cubic meter is dangerous to the health. 

In the latest CDC release, from December 31, 2012 to January 6, 2013, it is estimated that in above second-class medical institutions in Beijing, 30,077 patients came for flu treatment. The number is 3.88 percent higher than the previous week's 28,567 flu patients.

Pang said the flu in Beijing is different from the flu epidemic now spreading in the US. 

"H3N2 is the main strain of flu in the US; in Beijing it's H1N1," she said.
According to the Xinhua News Agency Sunday, so far 30 US states have had deaths due to the flu, most of whom were aged over 65 or children. 

This US flu season has peaked weeks earlier than usual, and has tipped over into an epidemic, the New York Times reported Friday.

Pang said that so far the flu is controllable in China because the A(H1N1) strain has not mutated.

From July, 2009 to January 17, 2010, 10,966 people caught A(H1N1) in Beijing, and 76 people died, according to the Beijing News on January 6.

"People should pay attention to personal hygiene. Children and the elderly should wear more clothes and schools should conduct regular temperature checks," Pang noted. 

A vaccine for this winter's flu is still available in hospitals and clinics in Beijing, and the elderly and children are vaccinated for free. Other people should pay at the clinic.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Inspiring Stories from Poor to Rich

I thought of sharing an interesting article from Yahoo! News, which depicted some of the inspiring stories from George Soros, Ursula Burns, Li Ka-shing, J.K. Rowling and Oprah Winfrey about their motivation to struggle and strive for their dreams and opportunities in order to become successful, wealthy and the well-known figures in the world.

I hope all these stories will inspire you to work hard and follow your dreams in order to make a change in your life or someone's life in the future.

Wishing you a Happy New Year and hoping that 2013 will be a great year of success, prosperity and health to everyone. 

20 Inspiring Rags-to-Riches Stories

In a time of rising inequality and sluggish growth, rags to riches stories are harder than ever to come by. Indeed, many of the richest people in the world were born into their wealth.

That makes it even more essential that we remember the people who started with nothing, and through hard work, talent, grit, and a bit of luck, managed to rise to the very top.

These 20 stories remind us that it's possible to overcome just about anything, from parents passing away, to extreme poverty, and more.

Maria Das Gracas Silva Foster escaped a Brazilian shantytown to become Petrobras' first female CEO


The current head of Brazilian oil giant Petrobras spent her childhood in Morro do Adeus, an extremely poor neighborhood that became a shantytown. Her mother worked constantly and her father was an alcoholic. She collected cans and paper to make extra money.

She started as an intern at Petrobras in 1978, but broke through barriers to become the company's first female head of field engineering. Bloomberg reports that her tireless work ethic has earned her the nickname Caveirao, for the armored vehicles police use to clean up crime ridden Brazilian neighborhoods. She became the company's first female CEO in February.

Source: Bloomberg

Do Won Chang worked three jobs to make ends meet before starting Forever 21

LAEDCorp via YouTube 

Do Won Chang and his wife, Jin Sook, moved to America from Korea in 1981. When they first arrived, Do Won was forced to work three jobs at the same time to support them, as a janitor, a gas station attendant, and in a coffee shop. Eventually, they were able to open their first clothing store in 1984.

That one store grew into Forever 21, which pioneered fast fashion and is now a multi-national, 480 store empire that generates around $3 billion in sales a year. It's a family business, with the couple's daughters Linda and Esther helping to run the company.

Source: Forbes

Harold Simmons grew up in a shack without electricity and became a multi-billionaire


Now a billionaire several times over, Harold Simmons grew up in the extremely rural town of Golden, Texas, where he lived in a "shack" that had no plumbing or electricity. He still managed to make it to the University of Texas, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. and masters in Economics.

His first venture was a series of drugstores, the first of which was almost entirely financed with a loan. That became a 100 store chain that he sold to Eckerd for $50 million. From there he went on to become a master of the corporate buyout. He currently owns 6 companies traded on the NYSE, including Titanium Metals Corporation, the world's largest producer of titanium. 

Source: Forbes, D Magazine

Zdenek Bakala fled communist Czechoslovakia with only $50 and is now a coal magnate


In 1980, when he was 19 years old, Bakala fled communist Czechoslovakia with a $50 dollar bill wrapped in plastic wrap hidden in a sandwich. He made it to Lake Tahoe, where he washed dishes at a Harrah's casino.

He eventually got an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Dartmouth. He went into banking, and eventually back to his home company, opening Credit Suisse First Boston's first officer in Prague after the Wall fell. presides over a coal company with a $2.52 billion market cap and eight production sites across Central Europe, which broke ground on the first privately owned coal mine in Central Europe since 1992. 

Source: The Wall Street Journal

George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary to become one of the world's most successful investors

Wikimedia Commons

George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary after his father paid a government employee, whose Jewish wife he had helped hide in the countryside, to let him pose as his godson. After the war, he escaped the country, which had come under communist rule, in 1947, to stay with relatives in London. Soros put himself through the London School of Economics by working as a waiter and railway porter.

After graduating, Soros sold goods at a souvenir shop before writing managing directors at merchant banks in London until he finally got a job. That was the beginning of a long and enormously successful career in finance, including his famous bet against the British pound in 1992, which earned him more than a billion dollars in profit in one swoop.

Source: Soros: The Life And Times Of A Messianic Billionaire, The Telegraph

Guy Laliberté ate fire on the streets before introducing Cirque du Soleil to the world


The Canadian-born Laliberté began his circus career busking on the streets: playing accordion, walking on stilts and eating fire. He gambled by bringing a successful troupe from Quebec to the Los Angeles Arts Festival in 1987, with no return fare. The bet paid off, and the circus group was eventually brought to Las Vegas, where they became the world famous Cirque du Soleil we know today.

Today, Laliberté is the CEO of Cirque, a professional poker player and space tourist, with a total net-worth of $2.5 billion.

Source: Celebs101

John Paul DeJoria lived in his car before John Paul Mitchell Systems took off

REUTERS/Eric Henderson 

As a first generation American, DeJoria had it rough from the beginning. His German and Italian parents divorced when he was two, and he sold Christmas cards and newspapers to help support his family before he turned 10. He was eventually sent to live in a foster home in Los Angeles.

DeJoria spent some time as an L.A. gang member before joining the military. After trying his hand as an employee for Redken Laboratories, he took a $700 dollar loan and created John Paul Mitchell Systems. He hawked the company's shampoo door-to-door, living out of his car while doing so. But the quality of the product could not be denied, and now JPM Systems is worth over $900 million annually. He also created Patron Tequila and has a hand in a variety of industries, from diamonds to music.

Source: Forbes

Ursula Burns grew up in a housing project on Manhattan's Lower East Side and now runs Xerox


Before the Lower East Side was cool, it was a hub for gangs. Burns was raised by her single mother in a housing project there. Her mother ran a daycare center out of her home and ironed shirts so that she could afford to send Ursula to Catholic school. She went to NYU, and from there became an intern at Xerox.

She's now Xerox's CEO and chairwoman. Burns is the first African-American woman to lead a Fortune 500 Company.

Source: Bloomberg

Howard Schultz grew up in the Brooklyn projects before becoming CEO of Starbucks

REUTERS/Robert Sorbo

Schultz grew up in the Bayview projects of Canarsie, Brooklyn. He always wanted to climb "over the fence" and go beyond the lifestyle provided by his truck-driving father. Despite destitution, he excelled at sports and earned a football scholarship to the University of Northern Michigan.

After graduating with a degree in communications, Schultz went to work for Xerox before discovering a small coffee shop called Starbucks. Enamored with the coffee, he left Xerox to become the company's chief executive in 1987. After beginning with 60 shops, Starbucks now has over 16,000 outlets worldwide, giving Schultz a net worth of $1.5 billion. He even went on hiatus and came back as CEO to lead Starbucks out of a decline.

Source: Mirror News

Li Ka-shing quit school at 15 to work in a plastics factory and is now the world's richest East Asian


The family of Li Ka-shing fled mainland China for Hong Kong in 1940, and Li's father died of tuberculosis when  he was just 15. Quitting school to work to support his family, Li made plastics and later plastic flowers for U.S. export.

By 1950 Li was able to start his own company, Cheung Kong Industries. While at first manufacturing plastics, the company later moved into real estate. Similarly, Li expanded his ownership of different companies, and today has his hand in banking, cellular phones, satellite television, cement production, retail outlets, hotels, domestic transportation, airports, electric power, steel production, ports and shipping, and investing in cool apps, among other industries.

Source: Harvard Business Publishing

Francois Pinault was a high school dropout who now leads luxury goods group PPR


Pinault quit high school in 1947 after being teased for his poor background. He joined his family's timber trading business and in the 1970s began buying up smaller firms. His ruthless business tactics — including slashing jobs and selling his timber company only to buy it back at a fraction of the cost when the market crashed — gave him a reputation as a "predator." He had similar tactics in the real estate business, and did well buying French junk bonds and taking government money to save businesses from bankruptcy.

His self-made worth helped him start PPR, a luxury goods group that sells brands like Gucci and Stella McCartney. At one point the richest man in France, Pinault and his family are now worth an estimated $13 billion, and have historic homes around the world.

Source: xfinity

Leonardo Del Vecchio was an orphaned factory worker whose eyeglasses empire today makes Ray-Bans and Oakleys

Getty Images 

Del Vecchio was one of five children who could not be supported by his widowed mother. After growing up in an orphanage, he went to work in a factory making molds for auto parts and eyeglass frames, where he lost part of his finger.

At 23, he opened his own molding shop. That eyeglass frame shop expanded to the world's largest maker of sunglasses and prescription eyeware. Luxottica makes brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley, with 6,000 retail shops like Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters. His estimated net worth is now $11.5 billion dollars.

Source: Forbes

Kirk Kerkorian went from boxer and Royal Air Force pilot to Las Vegas mega-resort owner


Kerkorian, who learned English on the streets, dropped out of 8th grade to become a boxer. His family was a casualty of the Great Depression, and Kerkorian went about finding skills to help bring income home. He became a daredevil pilot for the Royal Air Force during World War II, delivering supplies over the Atlantic on routes that would crash one in four planes.

From the money he made running supplies, Kerkorian became a high roller on the craps table and eventually a real estate magnate in Las Vegas: he bought The Flamingo and built The International and MGM Grand, stalwarts of the Vegas scene. He's worth a few billion dollars today.

Source: Smart Money Daily

Sheldon Adelson is another Las Vegas hotels magnate who tried his hand at a few industries 

Adelson grew up in tenement housing in Massachusetts, where he shared a bedroom with his parents and three siblings.  His father was a Lithuanian taxi driver and his mother had a knitting store. When he was 12 years old, he started selling newspapers and a few years later ran a vending machine scheme on the same corner.

Adelson tried his hand at a few different industries, from packing hotel toiletries to mortgage brokering. His biggest break came from developing a computer trade show. He turned that wealth into a purchase of the Sands Hotel & Casino, and later the mega-resort The Venetian.

Source: Minyanville

Ingvar Kamprad was born in a small village in Sweden and created a mail-order business that became IKEA


Kamprad lived the farm life growing up. But he always had a knack for business, buying matches in bulk from Stockholm to sell to his neighbors. He later expanded to fish, Christmas decorations, and pens.

Not satisfied with the small stuff, Kamprad took money from his father (a reward for good grades) and created a mail-order business that eventually became IKEA (the name comes from his initials plus those of his village and family farm). Furniture became the company's biggest seller, and Kamprad's use of local manufacturers kept his prices low. Once one of the world's richest men, his net worth has fallen recently to a an estimated $3 billion.

Source: Smart Money Daily

Roman Abramovich was an orphan who turned an expensive wedding gift into an oil empire

REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

After his parents died when he was just four, the Russian Abramovich was raised by his uncle and grandmother. Abramovich got his first break from an expensive wedding gift from his in-laws. He dropped out of college to pursue his entrepreneurial interests, which at first included selling plastic ducks out of an apartment in Moscow.

He managed a take over of oil giant Sibneft at a bargain price in 1995. He continued to flip his investments into even larger acquisitions, including Russian Aluminum and steelmaker Evraz Group. Over the years Abramovich has been accused of shady dealings, from paying out bribes and protection money to having a role in the gang feuds over aluminum smelters. It seems that being ruthless has paid off for the billionaire: he now owns the largest private yacht in the world, as well as a ton of other cool stuff. He's also the owner of the Chelsea Football Club.

Source: Hubpages

Richard Desmond went from living above a garage to creating an empire that published magazines like Penthouse

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images 

Desmond grew up the son of a single mother after his parents divorced. The two of them lived above a garage, during which time Desmond described himself as "very fat and very lonely." He quit school at 14 to focus on being a drummer, working as a coat-checker to help pay bills. Though he never became rich from his own musical talents, he later opened his own record shops.

Eventually Desmond published his first magazine, International Musician and Recording World. The Desmond magazine empire would expand to publications like a British version of Penthouse and Ok!, a worldwide favorite. He now owns publications around the globe and is involved in philanthropic work.

Source: The Observer

J.K. Rowling lived on welfare before creating the Harry Potter franchise


In the early 1990s, Rowling had just gotten divorced and was living on welfare with a dependent child. She completed most of the first "Harry Potter" book in cafes, as walking around with her daughter, Jessica, was the best way to get her to sleep.

The "Harry Potter" franchise has become a worldwide success and J.K. Rowling is now worth an estimated $1 billion.

Source: Biography

Before Sam Walton founded Wal-Mart, he milked cows and sold magazines in Oklahoma


Walton's family lived on a farm in Oklahoma during the Great Depression. In order to make ends meet, he helped his family out by milking the cow and driving the milk out to customers. He also delivered newspapers and sold magazine subscriptions.

By 26, he was managing a variety store after graduating from the University of Missouri with a B.A. in economics. He used $5,000 from the army and a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law to buy a Ben Franklin variety store in Arkansas. He expanded the chain, and then went on to found Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. He died in 1992, leaving the company to his wife and children.

Source: Biography

Oprah Winfrey turned a life of hardship into inspiration for a multi-billion-dollar empire

AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn 

Oprah spent the first six years of her life living with her grandmother wearing dresses made out of potato sacks. After being molested by two members of her family and a family friend, she ran away from home at age 13. At 14, her newborn child died shortly after he was born. She went back to live with her mother, but it wasn't until her mother sent her to live with her father that she turned her life around.

She got a full scholarship to college, won a beauty pageant —where she was discovered by a radio station — and the rest is history. The Oprah name became an empire, and according to Forbes she is worth $2.7 billion.

Source: Academy of Achievement