26 Januari, 2009

Brazilian beauty queen dies

A STUNNING Miss World finalist had her hands and feet amputated – after contracting a killer bug, according to reports.

Doctors carried out the drastic surgery on Mariana Bridi da Costa after she was struck down with a urinary disease – which can be fatal.

Her boyfriend Thiago Simoes said 20-year-old Mariana fell ill on December 30 – but was initially misdiagnosed with kidney stones.

The infection quickly spread – causing her to go back to hospital for tests that revealed her condition.

Septicaemia set in her limbs, cutting off circulation and forcing doctors to amputate her hands and feet.

Devastated Mr Simoes said: "We are all absolutely distraught and are just praying now that she can pull through.

"She fell ill on December 30 and we took her to hospital where she was misdiagnosed with a kidney stone.

"They gave her some medicine and sent her home. But two days later she started getting worse.

"We took her back to hospital and they said she had a very serious infection.

"She got more and more sick, and had no blood circulation to her limbs.

"First she lost her feet, then on Tuesday she lost both her hands.

"But she is a very strong person and we just want her to survive."

Miss Bridi is in a serious condition on a ventilation machine in hospital in Serra, in the southeastern state of Espirito Santo.

The infection was caused by the pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria.

Her father, Agnaldo da Costa, told a Brazilian newspaper that "the concern is over her life".

Mariana twice made it to the national finals of the Miss World contest and last year travelled to China to participate in the Miss Bikini International pageant.

Video footage has emerged of her taking part in a beauty pagent on the internet - which you can see above.

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19 Januari, 2009

Deadliest weapon so far... the plague

ANTI-TERROR bosses last night hailed their latest ally in the war on terror — the BLACK DEATH.

At least 40 al-Qaeda fanatics died horribly after being struck down with the disease that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages.

The killer bug, also known as the plague, swept through insurgents training at a forest camp in Algeria, North Africa. It came to light when security forces found a body by a roadside.

The victim was a terrorist in AQLIM (al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb), the largest and most powerful al-Qaeda group outside the Middle East.
It trains Muslim fighters to kill British and US troops.

Now al-Qaeda chiefs fear the plague has been passed to other terror cells — or Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

One security source said: “This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease.

“It spreads quickly and kills within hours. This will be really worrying al-Qaeda.”

Black Death comes in various forms.
Bubonic Plague is spread by bites from infected rat fleas. Symptoms include boils in the groin, neck and armpits. In Pneumonic Plague, airborn bacteria spread like flu.

It can be in the body for more than a week — highly contagious but not revealing tell-tale symptoms.

The al-Qaeda epidemic began in the cave hideouts of AQLIM in Tizi Ouzou province, 150km east of the capital Algiers. The group, led by wanted terror boss Abdelmalek Droudkal, was forced to turn its shelters in the Yakouren forest into mass graves and flee.

The extremists supporting madman Osama bin Laden went to Bejaia and Jijel provinces — hoping the plague did not go with them.

A source said: “The emirs (leaders) fear surviving terrorists will surrender to escape a horrible death.”

AQLIM boss Droudkal claims to command around 1,000 insurgents. Training camps are also based in Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria.

AQLIM bombed the UN headquarters in Algiers in 2007, killing 41. Attacks across Algeria last year killed at least 70 people.

In an interview last July, Droudkal boasted his cell was in constant contact with other al-Qaeda “brothers”. (thesun)

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15 Januari, 2009

Victoria Beckham debuts as underwear model for Armani

Not bad for a mother of three who insists that she looks "really awful" naked.

The first shots of Victoria Beckham advertising Armani underwear were released today and are soon to be plastered on billboards from London to Los Angeles, Paris to Tokyo.

They will also be prominently displayed in Milan, where Ms Beckham's footballer husband, David, is spending a few months on loan to AC Milan.

The new campaign, shot in the Beckhams' new home town of LA by fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, features the Spice Girl-turned-fashion-designer perching on a unmade bed. In another shot for the Spring/Summer campaign, she reclines on the floor clad only in heels and underwear.

As the pictures were released today, designer Giorgio Armani described Ms Beckham as: "a stylish and intriguing woman," adding: "Great underwear is alluring and provocative, and so I wanted to work with someone who would make a real impression."

Victoria, 34, is being paid a reported £12 million to follow in David's footsteps as an Armani underwear model, which should help pay the bills in the Italian fashion capital.

Victoria is no stranger to designer campaigns. In March last year she appeared in Marc Jacobs advertisements. The shoot saw her adopting a number of unconventional poses, including one in which only her legs were visible, splayed out of a Marc Jacobs bag.

Victoria, who has carved out a successful career since her pop fame as a designer and muse, launched her own line of clothing at New York fashion week last year to critical aclaim, but clearly feels there is no conflict of interest with her latest venture.

Armani praised the former Spice Girl as "a style icon" who enjoyed international recognition. "I'm sure Victoria's presence will generate great excitement."

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11 Januari, 2009

Laras the butterfly

Kamil, a thin black man, met long-haired Laras in the deep of the night at a deserted bus stop near a pedestrian overpass.

Kamil was in his masculine prime while Laras was desperately in need of shelter to protect her slim frame dressed in a thin green blouse from the bite of the night wind.

Night brought a different charm from daytime. The whispers of the heart teased a hidden passion. Anything could happen, in the blink of an eye. After the first burst of passion, more suspect seductions would follow, moving through the blood until a sigh was heard. Kamil and Laras felt it.

Laras looked so attractive under the beam of street lamps, Kamil just wanted to embrace her tightly. Moreover, the night wind kept blowing harder, making the air colder. He imagined her soft skin and sweet-smelling long black hair. They would be taste enhancers for his loneliness, especially in the dark nights.

Laras appeared beautiful in Kamil's eyes when they arrived at Kamil's small, dirty rented house. Laras smelled that ordinary musty aroma that hangs in the rooms of economy inns or frugal lodgings.

Laras saw a guitar in the corner of. A sudden urge to hear the strumming of guitar's strings struck her.

"Can you sing?" Laras asked.

"Of course," replied Kamil. "I'm a street singer. I sing every day on the bus."

Laras stood up and walked slowly to the corner. Her soft hand reached for the guitar. She brought it back to Kamil who couldn't keep his eyes from her long black hair. His eyes did not blink, his mouth hung open as he gazed admiringly at her.

"Sing for me," said Laras. Her gaze returned Kamil's unblinking stare. She smiled, her lips red and her teeth pearly white.

As if bewitched, Kamil took the guitar and started to strum a tune. He began singing the lyrics to his favorite song.

That girl with the long black hair Walks under the moonlight, Toward the moon's circle, That will bestow peace upon her. She turned into a butterfly Flitting everywhere 'Cause she belongs to no one.

Laras clapped her hands. Softly she said, "Did you know? That the song is about me, but nobody knows and cares. You sang it very melodiously."

Kamil did not hear what Laras said. He was already blind drunk on love wine, being unable to say a word and staring at every inch of Laras' body.

Seeing Kamil, Laras smiled with pleasure. It was the sweetest smile he had ever seen. He kept staring at her body. Night crawled, he could control his heartbeat no longer. It beat harder and harder, sounding like a wild ox that sees a waving red cloth. The pounding finally left when morning light broke.

"Stay here with me forever." Kamil's voice trembled when there was no more space between their bodies.

"But I am a free creature," said Laras. "I do not serve human beings."

"I don't care," Kamil said.

"And I am a butterfly which is bound up with the moon."

"Still, I don't care," said Kamil. "Even if you are a caterpillar."

Kamil pulled Laras' fingers to his chest so she could feel his heartbeat through her fingertips, which had reached tranquility now. His long-faithful beloved -- loneliness -- had been far away.

Gradually, without raising Laras' fingers from his chest, Kamil brought her fingers to his dark brown lips. He played them around his lips. Laras was simply quiet, giving a chance for Kamil to satisfy his thirst and hunger of a woman. Every night, Kamil dreamt of a woman sleeping beside him.

"I'll do anything you want as long as you stay here with me, becoming my spouse, my soul mate," Kamil begged.

Laras smiled. Her wings understood. It was not yet the right time to flap and fly to the full moon. It was still very far away. So she nodded. Seeing that, Kamil looked as though he had seen heaven unrolled in his future life. He felt he was the real man now.

The next few days became more beautiful for Kamil. Singing songs on the buses seemed more enjoyable. In the morning, there was a glass of coffee before working, and in the evening, arriving at home, he found a plate of rice complete with its side dishes.

His work schedule was already fixed, and he was very delighted when the time to go home had come. His longing always reminded him what time it was. Having a spouse in life was perfect and completed his life, everybody's dream.

Kamil became less choosy about which bus to ride. After he was done busking in one, he moved to another straightaway. There was always money coming into the plastic bag he'd been using for ten years. He thought Laras had brought him luck.


Months passed. Laras started to get bored by the unchanging atmosphere of the slum, the cry of neighbor children, quarrels between neighbors. All day was the same: the sound of food vendors and water hawkers, seeing tradespeople selling goods on credit going from one house to another, with vistas of laundry lines decked out with cheap, old and worn-out clothes.

"I'll give you what you want. Just tell me," said Kamil when he saw Laras' gloomy face one morning. Laras was thinking about the musty places which used to imprison her, before she would finally be free when the full moon shone.

"I am a butterfly who came from a caterpillar and a cocoon," she said amid the jangle of cooking pots the next-door neighbor was washing. "Here I feel like going back to the cocoon. It's hot and close. I don't feel at home."

"Don't worry, I'll buy you a fan so you don't feel the heat."

Kamil did not understand.

Ignoring Laras who was trying to say something, Kamil went out carrying his guitar. He thought to work harder to earn more money. He sang very seriously so his voice became sweeter, and the bus passengers started passing him more coins. He economized, eating a simple meal to save more money.

Passing a market, Kamil stopped in at an electronics store and asked the price of a standing fan. It cost more than 100,000 rupiah. Kamil was convinced he could collect that much money in a week if he worked much harder.

Coming out of the store, Kamil met an old friend who worked loading and unloading trucks at the market. Kamil asked him his wage, and got interested because it was more than he made trading song for coin. He would also get free meals and cigarettes. He decided to join his friend.

Inexperienced working by relying on his physical power, after the first few hours Kamil felt aches and pains all over his body. He could shoulder only a few sacks of rice before exhaustion hit.

"You'll get used to it," his friend said.

Because he wanted to buy Laras a fan, Kamil kept at it. In the evening when he got his wages, he felt as if his body had cracked.

"Save this money to buy a fan," Kamil said, passing his earnings to Laras.

Laras just followed Kamil's instructions because she thought it was useless to talk to him. Kamil would never understand who she really was.

Actually, Laras sense her wings would appear soon because the full moon was due to appear in a few more days. The wings had started to irritate her soul, urging her to go to the moon. Her heart had been away in a different place, a place that induced tranquility.

That day, Kamil could not budge from the bed. His body was sore all over, with the slightest movement. In his mind he recounted the money already saved to buy a fan.

The next day, Kamil decided not to keep working as a day laborer. He felt God had created him to be a street singer. Imagining a fan in his mind, Kamil sang so seriously he earned plenty.

At dusk, Kamil counted his bills and coins. His eyes gleamed when he realized the money would be enough to buy a fan along with the savings Laras was holding. He hurried home. Hearing Laras taking a bath, he silently took the savings and went on to the electronics store.


Laras finished her bath. Then she stared out the window intently. Her heart pounded as she waited for the full moon to rise.

Slowly her wings grew as the first arc of the moon appeared. The wings opened fully when the moon formed a complete circle above the horizon, radiating its cool light. Moonbeams touched all parts of the room. Laras could not resist letting her wings pump, throb and fill.

That girl with the long black hair Walks under the moonlight, Toward the moon circle, That will bestow peace upon her. She turned into a butterfly Flitting everywhere 'Cause she belongs to no one.

Kamil arrived home and called for Laras, fan in his hands. But the house was quiet. No lights were on. All was dark and dead. Groping in the air, he managed to enter his bedroom.

Opening the door, Kamil saw the trail of moonlight crossing the room. He dashed to the window and pushed it wide open.

Kamil stared at the full moon, its golden light gradually fading. Unconsciously, Kamil's right hand dropped the fan and reached for the butterfly flapping its wings as it rose in the direction of the moon.

"Laras." Kamil's lips trembled, the corner's dripping with tears.

He at last understood Laras was really a butterfly.(jktpst)

Read More......

05 Januari, 2009

The secret to being positive, successful and happy - by the world's leading thinkers

From Malcolm Gladwell to Alain de Bottom - leading thinkers share their secrets of success

"Take the risk of giving; something will come back"

Camila Batmanghelidjh Founder of children's charity Kids' Company

You have to think of the challenges as obstacles that you can have fun overcoming, rather than as impenetrable brick walls.

It's important, too, to have a sense of urgency: you have to work out how to get things done. If that does not happen, you have to keep the art of responding to the situation gracefully without feeling dramatic or victimised.

To have resilience you have to visit your dreadful bottom line. What's the worst thing that could happen? To face it and work it through, rather than always being scared of it?

It's a great help if you can be kind and not underestimate the energising capacities of kindness.

We're in a climate that might make you want to hoard, but you should take the risk of giving out. Something always comes back to you from it. The art of giving is to share the important things that you have, rather than just giving what you can spare.

Don't take yourself seriously: our ancestors lived in caves with little to survive on. What we're going through is no big deal.

I am going into 2009 with a totally fun attitude. The economic situation will make it very difficult for us to raise funds. My team and I are trying to think of really creative ways to do this with fun events and activities. We have many thousands of children reliant on our charity so downsizing is not an option.

You are always inspired if you are surrounded by children who have experienced huge trauma. It takes a lot for them to get up each morning and be hopeful for the next day.

If they can still hold on to hope, then the rest of us can learn from their example.

"Exercise every day, regardless of how tired you feel"

Nicky Kinnaird Founder of the British beauty chain, Space NK

Regardless of economic issues, a new year brings an opportunity to reassess our lives and adopt new lifestyle resolutions. I believe a better balance between work and play makes for greater productivity.

Having spent pretty much the past two months on the road in the US travelling from coast to coast (launching Space NK in Bloomingdale's), it opens your eyes to different ways of looking at things and to how other people prioritise in their lives.

Here are a few simple plans for 2009 that I have made during my recent journeys:

Exercise every day, regardless of how tired you feel. It gives you more energy and imparts a positive outlook.

But allow time for more meditative exercise rather than solely adrenalin-based competitive sports. Stretching and yoga make you much more aware of your body.

Forgo caffeine and alcohol, at least this month. You will be surprised how much better it makes you feel, and how much clearer and brighter your skin looks.

Be much more aware of your eating habits; the body needs a steady intake of fuel or it tends to make bad choices and few of those make us feel good. How different do we feel in the morning after a dinner of chicken or fish as opposed to red meat? Perhaps keep red meat for special occasions.

Spring-clean your closet. Anything that hasn't been worn over the past 18 months is unlikely to make another appearance. Donate it to charity and help someone else.

Invite friends around for dinner rather than go out to restaurants; enjoy your home rather than anonymous spaces. Stimulate your senses with inspirational music.

Enjoy the great outdoors - get some fresh air into your lungs and sunlight on your skin. Just remember sunscreen 365 days of the year. The sight of southern Californian skin has firmly knocked that into me.

"We must maintain direction and mission...then we can make it"

Malcolm Gladwell Author of Outliers, Blink and The Tipping Point

We have to find a new equilibrium. We are going to go through a very difficult period and a lot of people will suffer. The process of adjusting won't begin until we have found that we are at the bottom. We don't know if this thing will go away in one year or five years, whether it goes down 1 per cent tomorrow or 6 per cent. We have never been in this territory before.

You can look at it like the failure of strategic bombing in the Second World War. Strategic bombing always fails to bring populations to their knees... why? It's not the absolute level of hardship that causes people to crumble. It's the level of uncertainty that can destroy them. If we don't know what is going to happen and where it's coming from, then uncertainty is more of a hardship than hardship is.

We know we're in a terrible place, what it looks like and how we're going to suffer. But if we maintain a sense of direction and mission, and have faith in our leadership, then we can make it.

To succeed you have to work. In my book Outliers, I found that people who become remarkably successful put 10,000 hours of practice and learning into what they become great at.

The key words that the psychiatrists use are “deliberate practice” - it is careful, rich in feedback and intensive. Michael Jordan, the basketball star, was a manic practiser and incredibly self-critical. I'm talking about people who are critical so they can understand what they are good at and what they should focus on.

Developing obsessiveness is key. Being given an opportunity to channel that obsessiveness is central to success - and being in love with doing it. In fact, I wonder if the love part is the most important aspect.

"It is more important than ever not to get caught up in negative thinking"

Judy Piatkus Entrepreneur and specialist in lifestyle publishing

What people actually have to do is sit quietly and think about life in an orderly way. You have all this current whirling about you and you need to look for peace inside yourself because you are not going to find it outside. We have to be calm and in control, rather than making panicky decisions.

We can't control the world's financial situation. There isn't anything that any one of us can do about it. It is indeed global and looks very hard to fix. But there is one thing that we are all able to control and that is how we think about what is going on around us.

In these difficult times, and however hard life is and may be about to become, it is more important than ever not to get caught up in the downward spiral of negative thinking.

Because once you get caught up in negative thinking, that is what you will attract into your life.

Everything really does have a silver lining. If you are unemployed or about to lose your job or experience any other major loss or hardship, it is of course really difficult to think positively about the situation. But you do have to try - because the alternative is worse. You have to try to talk yourself into the idea that some good will come out of the current situation, even if you can't see what it will be at the present time.

For me, this year I am hoping to do some public speaking on aspects of managing companies in difficult times. I've been through two recessions, though not as bad as this one. I also want to do public speaking on managing fear.

There is a lot more opportunity next year for creativity to come through. If people want to think about what they want to do with their lives, rather than just go back into the wrong job again, it could be very constructive. It's an opportunity, if you see it that way.

These times mean that everyone will be evaluating every financial decision that they make and whether it adds to their pleasure in life. I hope that there will be a much greater sense of community because we are all in this situation together. Contentment isn't going to be about what you are earning.

For more on Judy Piatkus visit www.judypiatkus.com

"I'm a great believer in being postive"

Zita West Fertility and alternative therapy pioneer

There is doom and gloom all around. But I am a great believer in being positive. It's all you can do. Be optimistic, work hard and learn from what you are going through. What's the alternative? I think that in some ways, what is happening with the world economy is ultimately a good thing because there have been so many excesses in our society in recent years. It is now time to take stock of what we are doing. It is about pulling in our horns. I've learnt from Chinese medicine that health is a lot about balance and living within our natural bounds.

Whereas in generations past our ancestors suffered sicknesses of poverty, we now have more sicknesses of spirit - people never thinking that they have enough, and wanting to have everything now. You have to manage your mind.

A lot of what I see in my clinic is about mindset. It's what you find with women who go through IVF, give up and then become pregnant. I'm a big fan of IVF, but often the couples I see, their problem is about being impatient, rather than about being unable to conceive.

"It will be an exhilarating time"

Alain de Botton Author and philosopher

This will be the year when the question of how society should be arranged will cease to be an idle, abstract topic, dwelt upon by ivory-tower intellectuals. Everyone will become a political philosopher and all of a sudden some of the great issues facing our world will be up for grabs. It will be a frightening, exhilarating time.

A two-decade-old consensus about the virtues of individualism, liberalism and consumer capitalism is splintering beneath us. At the heart of the debate lie questions about fulfilment. We'll be asking how accurately the modern economy has been attending to our real needs.

There will be a whole new climate of scepticism about the market system - but one that will defy the old shrill labels of left and right. Expect ex-bankers to find unexpected points of agreement with environmental activists, poets and fashion designers.

Ultimately, the question will be: are our economies delivering on their promises? It'll once again be pointed out that our outer success is masking some deep-seated inner disturbances. Western society has always been an uneasy amalgamation of the values of the old Roman Empire - success, wealth and individual glory - and the values of the Judaeo-Christian world, with its emphasis on charity, serenity and love.

Those who will thrive are those who put the values of the Roman lion into abeyance and place the more compassionate lamb into centre stage again.

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03 Januari, 2009

RI condemns Israeli air raids on Gaza Strip

Thousands of protesters stage a rally against Israeli military attacks against Palestinian in the Gaza Strip, at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout, Jakarta, on Friday. Many of the protesters were sympathizers of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Indonesia has demanded the UN issue a formal resolution to condemn Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip and urge it to end the strikes that have left more than 300 Palestinians dead.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono joined the chorus of condemnation from leaders around the world over the air attacks that began on Saturday and resulted in the bloodiest days the Palestinians have seen in more than 20 years. Yudhoyono called for immediate action from the world community and the UN to force Israel to stop the attacks.

“I have written a letter to the UN secretary-general and the UN Security Council president condemning the Israeli attacks that are unproportional and have claimed huge numbers of lives and material,” he said at a press briefing, as anti-Israel demonstrators took to the streets nationwide.

The President underlined the need for the Security Council to set up a formal meeting to issue a resolution forcing Israel to stop the attacks and urging both sides to return to peace talks as stipulated in the 2007 Annapolis agreement, which helped maintain an uneasy peace in the region over the past six months.

“I am aware the UN has held an informal meeting, producing a written statement from the Security Council president. But Indonesia wants the council to hold a formal meeting to issue a resolution to force Israel to stop the attacks,” Yudhoyono said.

Indonesia has pledged US$1 million in cash aid, with another $2 million in medical supplies.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement saying he “deplored that violence is continuing today”, and strongly urging “once again an immediate stop to all acts of violence”.

The UN Security Council issued a nonbinding statement calling for “an immediate halt to all violence” in the Gaza Strip, where the air strikes are in their third day and Israeli tanks are massing on the border.

Yudhoyono’s statement was welcomed by the House of Representatives, Islamic organizations and civil society groups across the country.

“It’s time for the UN and the world community to get tough on Israel. The attacks can no longer be tolerated,” legislator Theo Sambuaga of the House’s Commission I on foreign affairs said.
Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin demanded the UN place sanctions on Israel, which he said had committed gross human right violations.

Suripto, a legislator and the chairman of the National Committee for Palestinian People, also urged the UN Human Rights Council to bring Israel to the International Criminal Court over the attacks.

Anti-Israel demonstrations took place across the country on Monday, with more than a thousand people rallying in Jakarta. Hard-line Islamic groups, including the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), have recruited volunteers to be sent to Palestine to fight.

“Go to hell, Israel! Israel is a terrorist!” the protesters shouted during their rally at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta.

Suripto said up to a million people would gather on Tuesday in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Central Jakarta to demand the country open its doors to Palestinian refugees.(jktpst)

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