My Anthem

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Recently I caught up with certain movies in a transient period when I just wanted to fill my mind with all sorts of ideas -- olde,newe, real, imagined, worldly, surreal, out of this world. And what better place to have escapades but Moviedom?

So it was surreal -- but I wish it could be Reality for Desi! -- in the film titled:
-- ditto as in Blog totle...:(

It tells the story of a man who was born "aged" and then time moved BACKWARDS -- that means he became younger by a year with each passing year whileall Homo sapiens around him grew OLDER by a year with each passing year.

The encasing of the two DVDs inside flags off, on the COVER:


Best Art Direction Best Visual Effects Best Makeup

(Chinese and Malay Subtitles -- Ooops, should this be screened?:(

Okay, I'll just do Copy&Pastrying later for the Back Story/Flap, so Stay Tuned!


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (film)
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For the short story, see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (short story).
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 American fantasy drama film directed by David Fincher. The screenplay by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord is loosely based on the 1921 short story of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The film stars Brad Pitt as a man who ages in reverse and Cate Blanchett as the love interest throughout his life. The film was released in the United States on December 25, 2008.

The film received thirteen Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Pitt, and Best Supporting Actress for Taraji P. Henson. It won Oscars for Art Direction, Makeup, and Visual Effects.

Contents [hide]
1 Plot
2 Cast
3 Production
3.1 Development
3.2 Adaptation
3.3 Casting
3.4 Filming
3.5 Music
4 Reception
4.1 Box office performance
4.2 Critical reception
4.3 Top ten lists
4.4 Plagiarism Claim
5 Home media
6 Awards and honors
7 Notes
8 External links

[edit] Plot
In August 2005, an 81-year-old Daisy (Cate Blanchett) is on her deathbed with her 37-year-old daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond) in a New Orleans hospital as Hurricane Katrina approaches. Daisy tells Caroline the story of a blind clockmaker named Gateau (Elias Koteas), who was commissioned to create a clock to hang in the New Orleans train station. After receiving news of his son's death in World War I, he continued work on his clock, but intentionally designed it to run backward, in the hope that it would bring back those who died in the war. After her story, Daisy asks Caroline to read aloud from a diary containing photographs and postcards written by Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt). Caroline begins to read as the story transitions to Benjamin's narration.

On November 11, 1918, just as the people of New Orleans are celebrating the end of the WWI, a baby boy is born with the appearance and physical maladies of an 85-year-old man. The mother of the baby dies shortly after giving birth, and the father, Thomas Button (Jason Flemyng), takes the baby and abandons him on the porch of a nursing home. Queenie (Taraji P. Henson) and Tizzy (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), a couple who work at the nursing home, find the baby. Queenie, who is unable to conceive, decides to take the baby in as her own and be his mother, against Tizzy's wishes. She names the baby Benjamin.

Over the course of the story, Benjamin begins to biologically grow younger. In the 1920s, he makes friends with Ngunda Oti, a man who used to sit by a river, and Mrs. Maple, a woman in her seventies who loves music. He also finds out Tizzy's grandfather worked for John Wilkes Booth. In 1930, while still appearing to be 73, Benjamin meets a 6-year-old girl named Daisy (Elle Fanning), whose grandmother lives in the nursing home. The children play together and listen to Daisy's grandmother read from a storybook. In 1934, just as Mrs. Maple dies, Benjamin goes to work on a tugboat on the docks of New Orleans for a tattoo artist, Captain Mike (Jared Harris). In their free time, the captain takes him to a bar for a drink and to have sex with prostitutes. For the first time, Benjamin meets Thomas Button, who does not reveal that he is Benjamin's father. In 1936, after making friends with a man who had been struck by lightning 7 times, Mr. Daws, Benjamin leaves New Orleans with the tugboat crew for a long-term work engagement. Upon Daisy's request, he sends her postcards from his travels. While in the Russian port city of Murmansk, he writes to Daisy that he has fallen in love. He begins an affair with the older, married Elizabeth Abbott (Tilda Swinton), who used to swim as a 19-year-old. On December 8, 1941 she breaks it off, leaving him a note only telling him "It was nice to have met you."

While in Russia, Benjamin and the rest of the tugboat crew hear of the Pearl Harbor attack. Captain Mike tells his crew that the Chelsea, his tugboat, has been commissioned into the United States Navy. They work through the war hauling damaged ships until one day they come upon a ship carrying 1,300 men that has been split by a torpedo. They attack the U-boat that had sunk the ship and ram it, sinking both the U-boat and the Chelsea. Captain Mike and every member of the crew except Benjamin and another man perish.

In 1945, Benjamin returns to New Orleans, and learns that the 21-year-old Daisy has become a successful ballet dancer in New York City, and that Tizzy just passed away. In 1947, Benjamin meets Thomas Button again, who is dying. He reveals he is his father and gives him his house, his button factory and other possessions, before he dies. In 1951, Benjamin comes to New York to meet Daisy at a performance, and finds Daisy has fallen in love with a fellow dancer, and tries to accept that their lives have separated. Daisy's dance career is ended in 1957 by an accident in Paris, explained as a series of seemingly unrelated events. She is hit by a taxi cab that breaks her leg in five places. When Benjamin goes to see her, Daisy is amazed at his youthful appearance, but frustrated at her own injuries; she turns him away by telling Benjamin to stay out of her life. In 1962, Daisy returns to New Orleans and reunites with Benjamin. Now the same physical age, they fall in love and move into an apartment together. They experience the 1960s together, in large part blissfully but increasingly aware of Benjamin growing younger while Daisy grows older. In 1967, Benjamin is informed that Queenie died and Daisy is pregnant. In 1968, Daisy gives birth to a girl, Caroline. In 1969, Benjamin, believing he cannot be a father figure to his daughter due to his reverse aging, and not wanting to burden Daisy with having to raise two children, sells his belongings, and leaves the proceeds to Daisy and Caroline. He leaves them both and travels to India. After reading this account, Caroline learns that Benjamin is her father. She is upset that Daisy took such a long time to inform her, but finds that Benjamin sent her a postcard from everywhere for each of her birthdays expressing his love for his daughter.

In 1980, Benjamin, now appearing about 20, returns to meet Daisy in her dance studio. The 53-year-old Daisy is now married to Robert Williams, a kind, supportive man, to Benjamin's relief. Daisy introduces Benjamin to Robert and the 12-year-old Caroline as a long-time family friend. Daisy and Benjamin then meet privately in Benjamin's hotel where they share their passion for each other, but they realize that their lives must remain separate. Benjamin departs again and continues to grow younger. In 1991, Daisy receives a phone call from social workers. They inform her that they found Benjamin — now a young 12-year-old just hitting puberty — living in a condemned building, and that they called her because they saw her name mentioned frequently in his diary. The social workers believe that he has dementia as he sometimes forgets that he had just eaten and cannot remember Daisy or much of his past. Daisy moves into the nursing home where Benjamin grew up and takes care of him through the 1990s as he becomes a confused 5-year-old boy with a growing temper to a 3-year old learning to walk.

In 2002, Mr. Gateau's old clock is removed from the train station. Shortly afterward, in the spring of 2003, the 84-year-old Benjamin, who is now physically an infant, closes his eyes as to sleep and dies in Daisy's arms. At the moment before Benjamin dies, Daisy claims to have seen in his eyes that he recognized who she is. Finally, the 2005 hurricane cuts the electrical system. As Caroline briefly leaves the room, Daisy passes away, her wish of seeing Benjamin again seemingly answered by a hummingbird hovering outside the storm-drenched windows, just as the sounds of the city's emergency sirens and reports of breached levees are heard.

All of the people Benjamin met in his travels through a backwards life are shown once more, with Benjamin narrating what each of them had been born to do. The backwards clock is then shown in a basement, still working, as floodwaters envelop the storage room in which it is kept.

[edit] Cast
Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button – apparent adult
Spencer Daniels as Benjamin Button – apparent age 12
Cate Blanchett as Daisy Fuller – adult
Elle Fanning as Daisy Fuller – age 6
Madisen Beaty as Daisy Fuller – age 11
Taraji P. Henson as Queenie
Julia Ormond as Caroline Fuller
Jason Flemyng as Thomas Button
Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as Tizzy Weathers
Jared Harris as Captain Mike
Elias Koteas as Monsieur Gateau
Ed Metzger as Theodore Roosevelt
Phyllis Somerville as Grandma Fuller
Josh Stewart as Pleasant Curtis
Tilda Swinton as Elizabeth Abbott
Bianca Chiminello as Daisy's Friend
Rampai Mohadi as Ngunda Oti
Edith Ivey as Mrs. Maple
Tim Harvey as Soda Jerk

_________________________ NEXT CHANGE: State of Play

Conditioned that Desi is still on Da Stage called L'VE!:) ~~ YL, Desi, knottyaSsusual:(


UPDATEd @4.32PM Saturday 926 -- 2009:)

Desiderata by concidence experienced what Curious Benjamin Button did -- travel back in time; I was listed at 25-years YOUNG in a field of honoured FOUR MALAYSIAN BLOGGERS scrutinied in a Malaysian PhD study just released++++:) I think I was a benefiiary of a TIME MACHINE those UKM scientists finally invented which enabled Desi to travel at a speed greater than c:) > 186,000 miles per second, though I stand corrected on this as it's been eon light years ago I last peeped at my Physics tomes.

If you have to ask WHAT IS c, please refer to my "assumed" counterpart deemed as Da Greatest Scientist Ever Born and Lived on mother GOoD Earth, also renowned for his

where E is ENERGY, M is Mass, and c is c-lah!:(

++++The Metaphors of Malaysian Social-Political Bloggers: A Shared Cognitive Schema?
I Ho-Abdullah, RS Hashim
- European Journal of Social Sciences, 2009 -

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The US Leader Now Does Not Wear a Marshall's Badge

Which is a welcome change in a world no more wild wild west but more world wide webbed.

President Barack Obama has recently moved away frommany of his predecessor Geroge W Bush Jnr's "hawkish" ways and means of engagement with the rest of the world, including appointing US sheriffs in other parts of the world e.g. Australia. The first Black American CEO also recently dismantled Bush's nuclear shield defence project which will go a long way towards a more peaceful approach to softening the world's militarised environments. And indeed, the next decade will pose as most challenging problems of the ENVIRONMENT, both natural and manmade.

Obama's maiden speech at the UN where the most comprehensive number of world leaders are gathered for alandmark meeting did mark a change i the US and UN's atmosphere, I think, and this extract -- "extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world, protracted conflicts that grind on and on, genocide, mass atrocities, more nations with nuclear weapons, melting ice caps and ravaged populations, persistent poverty and pandemic disease..." --
contains the key challenges ahead for the Homo sapiens of the united nations of the planet called Earth which is now in lessened danger of being blown up into smithereens in a wild bush of nuclear fires and warfare.

Here follows Obama's speech; the emphasis (thus BOLDED...)is mine, YL's, yes, Desi's, and it's mainly for my own focus. Not yours, for I am an at age when after my tehtarik on leaving Temian Korner, I have to decide if my car was parled to my right, centre, or leftist:) -- Desi

Obama to world: Don't expect America to fix it all

ABC News AP – U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, … By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent Jennifer Loven, Ap White House Correspondent – Wed Sep 23, 6:17 pm ET

UNITED NATIONS – President Barack Obama challenged world leaders Wednesday to shoulder more of the globe's critical burdens, promising a newly cooperative partner in America but sternly warning they can no longer castigate the U.S. as a go-it-alone bully while still demanding it cure all ills.

"Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems alone," said Obama in put-up-or-shut-up comments before a packed U.N. General Assembly hall. "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

In his first appearance before the group, Obama promised the U.S. would reach out in "a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect," but he also wagged a rhetorical finger at leaders who spend much of their time at international gatherings excoriating the U.S. He said "an almost reflexive anti-Americanism" that swept the globe under the administration of his predecessor, George W. Bush, is not "an excuse for collective inaction."

***"Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions," he said.

And yet, directly following Obama at the podium was Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who railed against the U.N. Security Council, which includes the U.S., calling it a "terror council" and accusing it of treating smaller nations as "second class, despised."

U.S. presidents — Bush included — have come to the United Nations year after year with a wish list of action items and preaching the gospel of working together. The U.S. is rich and powerful, but cannot solve problems without help, they say, whether Democrat or Republican.

So Obama's message was not new.

But it was delivered in an unmistakably new, more humble tone.

Following a president criticized for making my-way-or-the-highway "requests" of allies, Obama didn't demand so much as he chided and cajoled. It's now an inextricably interconnected world, he said, so that each country's problems become the others'.

"In the year 2009 — more than at any point in human history — the interests of nations and peoples are shared," Obama said.

Following a president pilloried for arrogance, Obama talked more modestly about the United States.

To be sure, he listed American contributions. But this was no chest-thumping bragging; instead it was a more lawyerly argument aimed at convincing the jury of Obama's world peers that the U.S. has heard the complaints and, under his leadership, is addressing them. That ranges from banning torture to winding down the Iraq war, working to rid the world of nuclear weapons, aggressively pursuing Mideast peace and bringing new energy to the battle against climate change.

And he delivered the message that America will not behave as if it is better.

"No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation," Obama said. "That is the future America wants — a future of peace and prosperity that we can only reach if we recognize that all nations have rights, but all nations have responsibilities as well."

At home, it remains to be seen whether Obama's critics on the right will see this sort of talk as giving away some of America's accepted status as the globe's lone superpower.

Many were already criticizing Obama along these lines after previous speeches meant to reach out a conciliatory hand — such as during his inauguration or in Cairo to the Muslim world. As John Bolton, a U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under Bush, said before Obama's trip: "Why should we not expect a visible demonstration of Obamamania at the U.N.? He is giving them pretty much what they ask for."

The president's reception in the traditionally staid U.N. hall was hardly Obamamania. But he received several rounds of applause, something rarely afforded to Bush. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, perhaps Obama's chief foe in the room who was delivering his own address later, listened intently but did not clap.

Even while offering new cooperation from Washington, Obama was blunt that others must step up or face dire consequences: "extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world, protracted conflicts that grind on and on, genocide, mass atrocities, more nations with nuclear weapons, melting ice caps and ravaged populations, persistent poverty and pandemic disease."

At the top of Obama's urgent challenges are the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran, the first having already produced several atomic bombs, the second suspected of moving rapidly in that direction and both in defiance of repeated international demands. He said the two nations "must be held accountable" if they continue, without mentioning the tougher sanctions that are his preferred penalties.

"The world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise," Obama said.

The president was particularly muscular on the need to tackle global warming, declaring that America's days of dragging its feet on the issue are over. "If we continue down our current course, every member of this assembly will see irreversible changes within their borders," he said.

And, seeking to build on his three-way meeting in New York on Tuesday with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Obama urged nations aligned with either side to abandon old divides — by speaking honestly to the Israelis about the Palestinians' legitimate claims to land and livelihood and to Palestinians and Arab nations about Israel's right to exist.

"All of us must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we only lend it lip service," Obama said.

He said that all leaders will be held accountable by their citizens. "They will not long tolerate those who are on the wrong side of history," he said.

And yet the problems he said require action are enormously complex and have bedeviled the world for decades. Also, when national interests collide with global priorities, leaders almost always choose the former, or pay a steep price politically. Obama himself said, "I will never apologize for" acting in America's interests.

Indeed, the president saw two tests of this firsthand on Wednesday, as his U.N. speech was bracketed by meetings with the leaders of Japan and Russia.

Talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev focused almost entirely on Iran, with Obama seeking support for tougher U.N. action if multilateral talks with Tehran next month yield unsatisfying progress. Russia, which has strong economic ties with Iran, has stood in the way of such stronger action in the past.

Emerging from the talks at Obama's hotel, Medvedev gave at least some ground, saying sanctions are usually unproductive but opening the door to more nonetheless. "In some cases, sanctions are inevitable," the Russian leader said.

The White House was thrilled at even this muted support, and said that Obama's decision last week to scrap a plan for a new U.S. missile defense shield in Eastern Europe that deeply angered the Kremlin, while not designed to increase cooperation from Russia, may well have made it more possible. "The notion that we needed to do what we did as a concession for Russia never came up," said Obama Russia adviser Mike McFaul. "But is it the case that it changes the climate — I think that's true, of course."

Japan, meanwhile, just elected a leader who campaigned on shifting its diplomatic stance to one less centered on Washington. In public remarks, Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama reaffirmed the importance of the traditional U.S.-Japan alliance.

DESIDERATA: One-liner aside, can? *** Maybe our leaders, from both Barisan Nasional and the Opposition camps, can heed the same admonishment! Okay, not from Prez Obama, but from Desi, knotyaSsusual:(

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Print Media RIP...Desi Is Sad!

I used to enjoy reading FEER, much more than the Asiaweek, both at one time a must-read weeklies for Desi carrying good analytical articles about Asia, the Asiaweek more political while the Far Eastern Economic Review, as its name suggests, combining a decent mix of politics and economics.

Asiaweek bade its faewell years abck, and News Corp's Dow Jones has just put up "Rest In Pieces" sign for the 63-year-old FEER. Quite predictable actually, the print media losing the RACE against the Internet alternatives.

Goodbye, olde chappie brother by a year:) News hounds/dogs like Desi are also sentimental to see media mateys come and go ...but Age does tell on you. I just watched an "EARLY EDITION" TV episode; maybe we can do with some fortune tellers among us journalists. Yeah, save the world from its own undoings, yeah Postpone or REdefine Apocalyse Now to Apolcalyso, Where Art Thou?

Reuters Media

Far Eastern Economic Review to shut after 63 years
Tue Sep 22, 2009 2:59am EDT Email | Print | Share| Reprints | Single Page[-] Text [+]

HONGKONG/NEW YORK Sept 22 (Reuters) -- The Far Eastern Economic Review, one of Asia's leading print publications, will be shut down by News Corp (NWSA.O) as it struggles with losses and a dwindling readership migrating to the Internet.

The 63-year-old magazine, which was run by News Corp's Dow Jones and enjoyed a weighty reputation for its fearless and in-depth Asian business and political coverage since World War Two, will close in December, Dow Jones said.

The announcement marks the denouement of what observers and former staffers said had been a gradual decline in the fortunes of one of the great titles in Asian journalism, once considered essential reading for the region's intelligentsia.

"The decision to cease publication of the Review is a difficult one made after a careful study of the magazine's prospects in a challenging business climate," said Todd Larsen, chief operating officer at Dow Jones Consumer Media Group.

In 2004, Dow Jones fired most of FEER's reporters and transformed it into a monthly publication. Articles were largely commissioned and only a skeleton editorial staff was retained.

David Plott, FEER's editor at the time, described the upheaval in 2004 as a loss of one of the "greatest concentrations of knowledge and expertise about the region assembled anywhere".

The magazine's demise comes as publishers gravitate towards electronic media and advertising revenues dwindle. In 2001, Asiaweek, another respected Asian weekly magazine, folded after 26 years.

"It's paradoxical that as the region becomes more and more important, there are fewer and fewer publications producing quality coverage," said Hugo Restall, FEER's current editor. Restall will remain on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, also run by Dow Jones.

A string of notable figures and correspondents have worked for FEER, including John King Fairbank, the Harvard sinologist, and the writer Ian Buruma.


Throughout its history, FEER's investigative and critical journalism has sparked tussles with Asian governments. The magazine is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the Singapore government, with the island state's High Court ruling it defamed elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew and his son, incumbent Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

FEER subsequently appealed the verdict.

"If we lose that then there's a question of whether they want to try to enforce the judgment in Hong Kong. Conceivably it could continue," said Restall.

Another FEER editor, Philip Bowring, also grappled with a lawsuit by the Singaporean government before he left the Review in 1992.

"It's important that these sort of battles are fought even if you don't win. At least you must put up a good fight," said Bowring.

"The one thing I do wonder about is the timing of this closure -- whether or not Singapore is going to drop that suit now that (Rupert) Murdoch has said that he's going to close the magazine." (Reporting Jui Chakravorty in New York and Don Durfee and James Pomfret in Hong Kong; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Ah that precious metal Au...

I often TEAsed my new readers here that I offer the traditionalwelcome drink of tehtarik, in goblets of Ag, Au or Pt. GOLD to traditionalists, especially Asan mothers, is the commodity to hold to hedge against bad times.

Is the current period a bad time? If Yes, then you may have to read thie following article from Steve Sjuggerud's "Daily Wealth" which regularly comes into my Inbox. I normally don't pay them nomind, but I do make an exception occasinally.

Any action you take following this article's reading is yours and yours alone. If you win with a bet, buy me a TT.

If you lose, that's your own call, Desi's sharing here is jest that, worth its weight in words...words....WORDS. and as one of my fave Oz bands sings, join the Bee Gees,in chorus:

"And Words are all I have To take your heart away..."

September 19, 2009

Editor's note: My friend David Galland is one of the most plugged-in guys in the world when it comes to gold and natural resource investment. So when he comments on something related to the industry, I always pay close attention. In today's issue, we share David's take on a huge trend in the gold market right now. Read on to learn...

Could China Push Gold to the Moon?
By David Galland, Managing Director, Casey Research

Inside sources have recently confirmed the Chinese government is actively promoting gold and silver investment to the masses.

Some analysts now contend that China can no longer afford to let the gold or silver price slump.

The rationale behind that contention is that with the Chinese government now telling the general populace to buy precious metals, it would be highly problematic should gold and silver subsequently take a nose dive.

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In many cases, what a government wants and what ultimately occurs can be wildly different, due to unintended consequences rarely foreseen by officialdom, and because once the masses get it into their heads to break one way or another, government's desires are largely ignored.

"You shall not smoke marijuana," says the government. "Roll me another," says John Q. Public.

But in the case of gold, interestingly enough, the Chinese government has the means at its disposal to actually do something about prices. Namely, at $1,000 an ounce, the total value of all the gold ever mined comes to about $5 trillion.

Of that amount, less than $1 trillion is held in official reserves, the rest under mattresses, in jewelry and family heirlooms, and in various ETFs – GLD being the biggest, by far, holding about $34 billion worth of gold.

Against these totals, China has foreign reserves in excess of $2 trillion.

In other words, more than enough to push the tiny gold market around in any way it wishes. Given that much of its reserves are now denominated in fragile U.S. dollars that it would sorely love to replace with something more tangible, and that China is the world's largest gold producer, the country's involvement with gold is something more than just a passing fancy.

Simply, there is a new gorilla in the room in global gold markets. The extent to which the broader market hasn't yet figured this out is the extent to which you as an early mover can ultimately profit. Especially in the more leveraged gold stocks, which continue to be strong even as the broader markets show weakness.

If The Stock Market Falls, Will Precious Metals Stocks Fall Too?
Gold to Stay Above $1,000 This Time Around

That all of this comes before the dollar hits the wall it must hit, or before the inflation that is now baked in the cake arises, lends a lot of credibility to the idea that when the gold bubble begins to expand, it could reach all the way to the moon.

No need to chase gold at these levels, as opposed to buying on dips. But buy.


David Galland

P.S. As I mentioned above, gold stocks – especially those of the junior exploration variety – will explode to the upside as the bull market in gold progresses. As the subscribers of our junior resource advisory service International Speculator can confirm, double- and triple-digit gains within 12-24 months are commonplace... along with occasional 1,000%+ gains.

If you'd like to join us in finding the best opportunities in this market, click here to learn more.


Year-to-date gain in the price of silver. Silver is considered both a monetary metal (like gold) and an industrial metal.

The Four Major Threats to Your Retirement!

Your ability to accumulate a nice, healthy nest egg can make or break your retirement dreams. A series of looming threats are getting brushed aside and in many ways they're being made worse by all of our country's other problems.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take RIGHT NOW to help you secure and maintain the rich comfortable retirement you deserve.

Click here to learn how to protect and grow your nest egg.

A 73% One-Year Return on Your Cash
By Dr. Steve Sjuggerud
Friday, September 18, 2009

The reality is, virtual banks are in their "sweet spot" right now, thanks to the government artificially cutting interest rates to such low levels.

How the World's Best Investors See the Market
By Porter Stansberry
Thursday, September 17, 2009

In this chart, the second top in stocks we saw in 2007 doesn't exist. It's like the bull market of 2002-07 never happened.

An American Disaster That's Hard to Escape
By Dr. Steve Sjuggerud
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If you want to give up your citizenship, you have to give up nearly half your wealth above a certain level. The Economist magazine calls it "America's Berlin Wall."

What I Discovered in a Newspaper from September 1930
By Tom Dyson
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's tempting to conclude a major collapse is coming in the stock market as we follow the path laid out by the Great Depression. But I don't think that's likely.

What I Learned from a Salesman at Lowe's
By Tom Dyson
Monday, September 14, 2009

It's no exaggeration to say the American consumer is the single most important engine of growth for the entire world economy.


"Risk be damned... just give me a good story." That's our theme for Chart of the Week.

Back in 2007, we used shares of China's largest air carrier, China Southern Airlines (ZNH), to gauge the speculative frenzy in Chinese shares. As we predicted, the stock was destroyed when the China bubble popped. This week, we introduce a new poster child for China speculation: Baidu (BIDU).

Baidu has a wonderful growth story. It controls a giant share of the Chinese search engine market – you could call it the "Google of China." This makes it a favorite among "hot money" speculators.

Baidu suffered a terrific fall in 2008, declining from $373 to $104. But as you can see from this week's chart, the stock is soaring right now... and is closing in on its 2007 bubble peak. We're back to "risk be damned... just give me a good story."

– Brian Hunt

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Contrasting Ozzie and MalaysiaAh Perspectives on Human Race:)

NUMBERS. And YOU and Desi figure in the contrasting worldviews. Could this be the Asian lenses versus the Western? Hence India's one billion populatio, and China's 1.3billion, still more/aMore to come. While European countries' populations are either stagnant at low numbers, some even dwindling!

NegaraKu during Dr Mahathir Mohamad's time/s had proclaimed a 70million target for Malaysia's population, I believe by 2050 (***Please correct me if I'm wrong!...) Is current Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak still pursuing this goal beyond V2020?

For now, there is an amplified numbers of some 2.0-to-2.5million legal migrant workers here, amplified some more by another 2.0-to-2.5 "illegal" wrokers (those who entered Malaysia in the steal of the night, maybe after greasing the dark palms of the Immigration/Police kaki, or should it read mata-mata dan kaki-kaki.

I don't have a problemwith Dr M's target, but yours and mine, our NegaraKu's -- NEEDS! Well considered policy, well brain-stormed, based SOLELY ON MERITOCRACY so that Yes, we also "cream the best" from anywhere, beyong geographic boundary, no matter thepotential migrant is "black or white". (C, Desi knows some Michael Jackson's numbers, not just cowboy Hank Williams, Senor or Junior, or Faith Hill!:):)

My take on this issue is playing safe -- I prefer a regulated growth, including intake of "qualifued" migrants from over the seas. Like Australia and Singapore do. I once worked at the Oz diplomatic mission, and they issue an annual list of "Professionals & Skilled workers" that are in short supply Down Under
and these would be in priority queue to enter Ozland as "migrants" ie. given Permanent Residence staus for a start. On top of a similar scheme, our kind "neighbour" Down South starts young by offering ASEAN Scholarships even to secondary students. Many continue to tertiary education in Singapore or abroad and are bonded to serve the Singa government. Many Malaysians have benefited, and still continue to do so, from this not totally alruistic programme. To think Asean is driven by "altruism" in the spirit of "Prosper Thy Neighbour" -- quite a fave phrase by Tun Dr Mahathir during his premiership, if I recall rightly, or leftisitly:) -- methinks is too idealistic. It's based hugely on "SURVIVAL" of the fittest as well enanunciated by CharlesDarwin. If you knoweth not who tahtwas/is/will be, it's OK, watch more Charlie Angels this Raya season.

Leave the NUMB3RS haedaches to the politicians and Bloggers who have nothing badder to do on a mazey, hazy, lazy tropical Sunday! Lacey as well on top of CON BF topped wit' icescream on Sundae, mGf?

"SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI" to all our Muslim bros and sis at home and abroad. Desiderata2000 will take a break till next wedNURSEdae when a childe full of woe willcome back here for more L'VE!:) Cheer7eeers from BUMmer YL, Desi, happy4once with my numbers.

Australian population ‘set to hit 35m’ SYDNEY, Sept 19 — As Australia's population is set to jump from its present 21.9 million to 35 million in just 40 years, experts are warning that the huge increase will pose serious challenges to the nation.

Treasurer Wayne Swan yesterday announced that Australia's population was expected to grow by 65 per cent by 2049 — “significantly higher” than the projection of 28.5 million by 2047 released two years ago.

Swan said this was largely driven by a greater number of women of child-bearing age, a higher fertility rate of 1.9 births per woman and an increased number of younger migrants.

“Along with climate change, this is the most serious challenge we face,” he said.

While the number of young and working-age people is projected to grow by 45 per cent, the senior population is also expected to double.

He said careful environmental and infrastructural planning would be required to support the boom and ageing of the workforce.

Moreover, as the country's average age grew, government spending would have to be increased, which in turn would lead to lower real gross domestic product per person, he said. “Together, these factors (pose) very substantial fiscal pressures,” he said.

Concerns about health, old-age care and pensions are also expected to grow as those aged 65 and over increase, accounting for 22 per cent of the population.

They currently make up 13 per cent, up from just 8 per cent in 1969.

Population analysts also warn that the projected increase may have unexpected social and political repercussions, especially if the number of migrants continues to be as high as it has been since the start of this decade.

Figures from the Department of Immigration show that since 2000, Australia took in an average of about 120,000 migrants each year, with the trend increasing.

Dr Dharma Arunachalam, director of the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University in Melbourne, said that should this rate be sustained or even increased, some Australians might find it difficult to adjust to the changing demographics.

Bill Mitchell, vice-president of the Australian Local Government Association, said the projected rise would put a strain on the basic infrastructure of the larger cities, in particular, water.

“Right now, most of the capital cities in Australia have some sort of water restriction,” he said. “So unless the various state governments can get desalination plants up and running before too long, people in those cities might not have enough water.”

He also said that state governments should start encouraging people to move to regional centres and towns to ease the burden on the capital cities. “They must ensure that health, education and law-and-order facilities must be adequately provided in the rural areas.”

But Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is upbeat about the projections.

“I think that it's great that our population's growing because so many countries around the rest of the world are shrinking and that poses a real problem in terms of having a strong tax base for the future and a strong economy and a strong nation for the future,” he was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.

The only obstacles to the population surge could be if “feeding” nations such as India and China become so economically successful that their citizens do not want to migrate, Arunachalam said.

Also, the fertility rate of 1.9 births per woman — which Swan said would underpin the larger-than-expected surge in population — might not be sustained, added Arunachalam.

“All it takes is another huge economic downturn for couples to put off having children and, thus, reduce the rate,” he said. — The Straits Times

*** ERRATA: Formy ER's lazy BUMmer indulgence, I google Dr Mahathir population 70 million; it led me to an interesting read/lead at NETWORKMALAYSIA. Please go dare for the fool's meal!:)
entree follows as TEAser:(


September 10: Dr Mahathir in his address at the 33rd UMNO Annual General Assembly urged Malaysians to aim for a population of 70 million within 120 years as ...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Signifcant Obama Decision...(II)

Desi often raeds the word OUTREACH in the circle of evangelists and eco-tourism promoters -- full of zeal and soft sells. For my virginal experience, the following report from AP uses "outreach"on the political landscape.How rich I'm learning learning my colonial master's language, but they don't make a Bard out of me. I still still to go back to poems -- the key to open ladies' heARTjest as the one to the men's is via his blooming tummy. I shouldn't be too harsh on meself -- consider that said in jest because I started this morning's ride on EMPTY!

Obama plan aims to squeeze Iran, reassure Israel

Featured Topics: Barack Obama Play Video AP – Obama decides to shelve Bush-era missile shield
Play Video Video:Clinton: "Iran must now decide" Reuters Play Video Video:Obama shifts gears on missile defense Reuters Play Video Barack Obama Video:Obama: Majority of protestors not motivated by race WWL-TV, Channel 4 New Orleans AP – NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen gestures while speaking during a speech at the Concert Noble …

By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer Robert Burns, Ap National Security Writer – 1 hr 22 mins ago

The Obama administration's revamped plan for a European missile shield is part of a broad new strategy for squeezing Iran.

The plan has upset some loyal allies with its appeal to Russia. Yet if the new approach pans out, using more diverse defenses and greater diplomatic leverage, it could provide protection from Iran not only for Europe but also Israel and Arab states in the Persian Gulf who fear the Iranians' pursuit of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

With U.S. troops already stationed on Iran's eastern and western flanks — in Iraq and Afghanistan — the addition of anti-missile weapons aboard U.S. Navy ships in the region would add to Iran's military isolation. And the hope is that it would ease Israel's sense of urgency for taking military action against Iran.

Critics say the emerging Obama approach does too little to enhance protection of the U.S. homeland from missile threats while putting too much stock in intelligence estimates of Iran's missile plans.

On the diplomatic front, President Barack Obama hopes Russia will find more reason to go along with U.S. efforts to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb, now that Washington has abandoned a Bush administration approach to missile defense in Europe that Moscow viewed as a threat to its own security.

In Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called the Obama move a "right and brave decision."

In a new outreach to Russia on Friday, the civilian chief of NATO called for the U.S., Russia and NATO to link their missile defense systems against potential new nuclear threats from Asia and the Middle East. Previous such appeals for collaboration have produced little concrete result, but with Obama's change of approach this one may stand a better chance.

Russia publicly opposes any Iranian effort to develop nuclear weapons, but it also is against imposing new sanctions on Tehran. In the U.S. view, the threat of further sanctions is a necessary diplomatic tool.

Iran's nuclear ambitions are expected to be a central focus at a gathering of world leaders at U.N. headquarters in New York next week. And U.S, Russian and other powers are to sit down with Iranian officials on Oct. 1 for a resumption of talks on the nuclear issue as well as other security topics.

Britain's ambassador to Washington, Nigel Sheinwald, told The Associated Press on Friday that he considered it encouraging that Russia quickly welcomed Obama's decision to change course in Europe.

"One way or the other, it cannot but contribute positively to the objectives of the reset of relations with Russia," Sheinwald said, adding that "we do want Russia to be an active and committed participant in these discussions on Iran."

Ray Takeyh, an analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations who served as a State Department adviser on Iran policy until last month, said Obama's blueprint for missile defense in Europe evokes an idea raised in July by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for a defense umbrella over the Persian Gulf.

"Logically, there is a connection there," Takeyh said in a telephone interview.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a similar link when he laid out details of the Obama plan for Europe.

"I don't want to get into it in too much detail," Gates told reporters Thursday, "but the reality is we are working both on a bilateral and a multilateral basis in the Gulf to establish the same kind of regional missile defense that would protect our facilities out there as well as our friends and allies."

The U.S. already is taking a similar approach in Asia, where sea-borne anti-missile weapons and mobile radars are arrayed to protect Japan and other allies from the threat of a North Korean missile strike.

Under the Obama plan for Europe, U.S. Navy ships equipped with anti-missile weapons would form a front line of defense in the eastern Mediterranean, combined with existing land-based anti-missile systems such as the Patriot ashore in Europe. A similar arrangement is foreseen for the Persian Gulf to protect not only U.S. ships that regularly patrol the Gulf but also Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Clinton said in a speech at the Brookings Institution on Friday that the retooled approach to missile defense in Europe is mainly a response to a perceived change in Iran's ballistic missile priorities. The U.S. believes Iran is accelerating its short- and medium-range missile development and going more slowly than previously anticipated in building the long-range missile that once was the central threat.

"We believe we will be in a far stronger position to deal with that threat and to do so with technology that works and with a higher degree of confidence that what we pledge to do we can actually deliver," Clinton said.

She dismissed claims by critics that the administration changed course in order to placate the Russians and that the shift amounted to undermining NATO allies Poland and the Czech Republic, whose governments had agreed during the Bush administration to host key elements of the now-abandoned system.

"This decision was not about Russia. It was about Iran and the threat that its ballistic missile program poses," Clinton said.

At the Pentagon on Friday, Czech Defense Minister Martin Bartak, speaking through an interpreter, asserted that "missile defense doesn't end here." He said his country will evaluate the new plan and "we are going to figure out ways the Czech Republic can be involved in the future missile defense."

With Bartak at his side, Gates spoke optimistically of entering a new phase of cooperation with Russia.

"For more than two years I have encouraged the Russians that we are partners in this missile defense," Gates told reporters. "The Russians have a radar in southern Russia, the Armavir radar, that actually would fill a gap in coverage, and we would welcome the Russians networking with us in this. We think that we can make that happen."

Combined with the prospect of Iran building a nuclear weapon, the Iranians' missile program is a particularly urgent problem for Israel. In Tehran on Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies Israel's right to exist, lashed out at the Jewish state and again questioned whether the Holocaust happened.

Although Israel is not officially part of the U.S. missile defense system in Europe, Gates reiterated on Thursday that Washington is intent on helping Israel improve its defenses against an Iranian threat.


Associated Press writers Desmond Butler and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Signifcant Obama Decision...

Hopefully this landmark decision will see a more peaceful co-existence between the major powers of the power, and there willcontinue to be shifts among the opposing forces, new alignments and re-alignments, and the emergence of China and India as key power players on the miloitary landscape. The US President Barak Obama in his decisive policy decision in reversing a Bush's hawkish initiative is a positive gesture of detente.

Hopefully, the message of peaceful co-existence willoverwhelm any wardrums beating about the bush. -- DESI

White House to Scrap Bush’s Approach to Missile Shield

Published: September 17, 2009

WASHINGTONPresident Obama announced on Thursday that he will scrap former President George W. Bush’s planned missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic and instead deploy a reconfigured system aimed more at intercepting shorter-range Iranian missiles.

Luke Sharrett/The New York Times
President Barack Obama spoke about the missile shield at the White House on Thursday.

The Lede: Gates and Obama Statements on Missile Defense
Transcript: Obama’s Remarks on Missile Defense Strategy (September 18, 2009)

Mr. Obama decided not to deploy a sophisticated radar system in the Czech Republic or 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland, as Mr. Bush had planned. Instead, the new system his administration is developing would deploy smaller SM-3 missiles, at first aboard ships and later probably either in southern Europe or Turkey, officials said.

“President Bush was right that Iran’s ballistic missile program poses a significant threat,” Mr. Obama told reporters at the White House. But he said new assessments of the nature of the Iranian threat required a different system that would use existing technology and different locations. “This new approach will provide capabilities sooner, build on proven systems and offer greater defenses against the threat of missile attack than the 2007 missile defense program.”

The decision amounts to one of the biggest national security reversals by the new administration, one that has upset Czech and Polish allies and pleased Russia, which adamantly objected to the Bush plan. But Obama administration officials stressed that they are not abandoning missile defense, only redesigning it to meet the more immediate Iranian threat.

Mr. Obama called the leaders of both Poland and the Czech Republic before making his announcement and said he “reaffirmed our deep and close ties.” In speaking with reporters, he also reiterated America’s commitment under Article V of the NATO charter that states that an attack on one member is an attack on the entire alliance.

But he also repeated that Russia’s concerns about the original missile defense plan were “entirely unfounded” because both then and now it is aimed only at Iran or other rogue states. He offered again to work with Russia on a joint missile defense program.

The decision drew immediate Republican criticism for weakening the missile defenses Mr. Bush envisioned.

“Scrapping the U.S. missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic does little more then empower Russia and Iran at the expense of our allies in Europe,” said Representative John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, the House minority leader. “It shows a willful determination to continue ignoring the threat posed by some of the most dangerous regimes in the world, while taking one of the most important defenses against Iran off the table.”

Anticipating that, the Obama administration had Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates discuss the decision shortly after the president’s statement, deploying the Pentagon chief who was first appointed by Mr. Bush. Mr. Gates told reporters that the new system will actually put defenses in place sooner than the Bush plan and noted that land-based interceptor missiles may yet be located in Europe, including possibly Poland or the Czech Republic.

To say that the Obama administration was scrapping missile defense, Mr. Gates said, is “misrepresenting the reality of what we are doing.” He added that the new configuration “provides a better missile defense capability” than the one he himself recommended to Mr. Bush.

Administration officials said the Bush missile defense architecture was better designed to counter potential long-range missiles by Iran, but recent tests and intelligence have indicated that Tehran is moving more rapidly toward developing short- and medium-range missiles. Mr. Obama’s advisers said their reconfigured system would be more aimed at that threat by stationing interceptor missiles closer to Iran.

In arranging post-midnight calls by Mr. Obama to Czech and Polish leaders, and quickly sending a top State Department official to Europe, the administration was scrambling to notify and assure the European allies early Thursday morning as word of its decision was already leaking out in Washington. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the administration would jettison the Bush architecture.

But it made for unfortunate timing, as Thursday is the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland at the start of World War II, a date fraught with sensitivity for Poles who viewed the Bush missile defense system as a political security blanket against Russia. Poland, along with many other countries in the former Soviet sphere, worry that Mr. Obama is less willing to stand up to Russia.

Mr. Bush had developed a special relationship with Eastern Europe as relations between Washington and Moscow deteriorated. The proposal to deploy parts of the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic were justified on the grounds that they would protect Europe and the eastern coast of the United States against any possible missile attacks from Iran.

But the Polish and Czech governments saw the presence of American military personnel based permanently in their countries as a protection against Russia. Moscow strongly opposed the shield and claimed it was aimed against Russia and undermined national security. The United States repeatedly denied such claims.

Mr. Obama’s advisers have said their changes to missile defense were motivated by the accelerating Iranian threat, not by Russian complaints. But the announcement comes just days before Mr. Obama is scheduled to meet privately with Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, in New York on the sidelines of next week’s United Nations General Assembly session.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Most Spontaneous Post: LADY GAGA...

interviewed just minutes ago as I write this about 11.40AM Malaysian time; Lady Gaga was faced-off with my fave presenter on CNN: Christie lu Stout.

Gaga's comments about fame, artistry and rumours about her personal sexual oreintation etc are so ORIGINAL that Desi was moved to hit the PC keyboard to upload this. I just kind of agree with her line that, paraphasing hear, not so professionally, but with good intent OK!: "I just do what an performing artist does best, on stage. I am not crazy just because my aide says I even sleep with my wigs on ... I don't care or mind what others say about my person (wrt her hermaphroditism...) I won't dignify with an answer to (the rumours)..."

Please view the TV clip via to get the full spirit of her interview; here's the news report:

By Dean Irvine

MACAU, China (CNN)
-- There are no downsides to fame, said Lady Gaga, the singer and currently one of the hottest things in pop.

Going Gaga on stage: "You will never know me unless you see me live."

1 of 2 more photos » For someone whose debut album called "The Fame" has reached No. 4 in the Billboard charts and has two of the year's biggest selling singles, it's not a surprising statement.

But talking in Macau before her final concert of her Asian tour, it seemed that if not fame itself, its handmaidens -- media scrutiny and touring -- might be taking their toll on the 23-year-old.

Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta) arrived for the interview backstage at the Venetian Hotel's concert arena suitably attired; wrapped in a Vivienne Westwood outfit and propped up in enormous Galliano heels. With gargantuan shades covering half her face, the avant-garde fashionista image was intact.

"I'm sort of a musical pop music misfit," she said in her slow New York drawl, and "a relentless bitch" in response to how she had got to the top of the music industry.

She claims Lady Gaga is not a persona and it seems she is committed to living as closely to the wild fantasy shown in her videos. More at home on the stage than in the interview chair --"We could sit here and talk, but you will never know who I am unless you see me live" -- even Gaga's faithful make-up artist (in attendance throughout the interview) thought she was crazy because she sleeps in her wigs.

Was it to keep the persona up, stay in character? No, "I just like wigs," she said with an unintentional comic deadpan. View the behind the scenes photos and on-stage outfits of Lady Gaga in Macau »

She's gone from art school dropout performing in clubs in the Lower East Side of Manhattan to the edge of global stardom with her infectious dance tunes and an intriguing and outlandish image. It's an image that has been carefully concocted; part performance artist, part sexualized pop automaton who feeds on pop culture iconography, digests and adapts it.

"Tabloids were my text books, I'd tear out pages. I embrace pop culture; everything that people say is poisonous, ostentatious and shallow. It's like my chemistry book. I look though everything and make what I believe is art out of it," she said.

On TV: Show times
Wednesday, Sep 16: 1330 GMT (2030 Hong Kong)
Thursday, Sep 17: 0400 GMT (1100 Hong Kong)
Saturday, Sep 19: 0530, 1530, 1930 GMT (1230, 2230, 0230 Hong Kong)
Monday, Sep 21: 0300 GMT (1000 Hong Kong)
Tuesday, Sep 22: 1630 GMT (2330 Hong Kong)

Assisting in her pop alchemy is the Haus of Gaga, her inner circle that encompasses designers, producers and those she's close to. As well as her make-up artist, her manager was also in close attendance during the shoot. While we weren't allowed a further glimpse into the "Haus," her coterie exhibited tendencies more like a support group than put-upon workers dealing with diva demands.

If fantasy has a prominent place in the world of Gaga, then the amorphous idea of fame is running the show. She name-checked pop artist Andy Warhol as an inspiration for the way he made commercial art as respected as fine art. No mention was made on his ideas on the fleeting nature of fame itself.

"Ambition and longevity are in my blood," she said, and having written the songs on "The Fame" as well as tunes for Britney Spears and The Pussycat Dolls, she has the musical talent to elevate her above the industry's disposable pop starlets.

"I must remain prolific and relevant... but equally irrelevant," she said as a gnomic strategy for maintaining success. But great anecdotes about how she came up with certain ideas for costumes that involved running around the woods naked in Hawaii sounded more like a real person and less arch.

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Yet her contention that fame can do no wrong was shaken by one question at the end of the interview. Aware that more people wanted to know more about her the longer she's in the public eye -- "I find I'm being probed a bit more" -- Internet rumors have been spreading.

While helpful for fueling media interest and the enigma of Lady Gaga, among the most fantastic things circulating out there is that she's a brain-washed puppet of the Illuminati, another is that she is a hermaphrodite. The question was asked how does feel when she reads things like the latter.

The atmosphere changed.

"I'm not even going to answer that," was her response after a protracted pause, while off camera her manager expressed shock at the question, demanding it not be aired (a demand she later retracted only after plenty of discussion).

Gaga herself said the cameras should be turned off, the interview over. They weren't and it wasn't. Things were quickly, if uncomfortably, smoothed over for the sake of one more question to "end on a positive note," according to the manager.

Composure regained, "You can ask me about scrutiny, but I'd prefer if you didn't..." Gaga said.

Was the reaction a studied response to fuel more controversy? It didn't seem so, it was personal and had struck a nerve. Yet her response to the reworded question on scrutiny was like a switch had been flicked and she was back on message:

"There are no downsides," she said before launching into slightly an anecdote that involved getting advice from +++Grace Jones while she washed her feet.

DESIDERATA: +++The advice given by Grace (C, I'm on first person terms with such greAts!:) -- paraphrasing hear again! -- was that an artist/or any professional, methinks, should just listen to advice given by those whom one respects. "To all others, damn it, why do I care?" Okay, those within quote marks, that's in Desi's own words, take it or leave it!
E-mail to a friend


About my fave presenter:) Don't ye be jealous!:(

Anchors & Reporters
Kristie Lu Stout

Kristie Lu Stout is an award-winning anchor/correspondent for CNN International. Recently named one of Forbes magazine’s ‘Nine Women to Watch’ in Asia, and winner of a prestigious Asian Television Award as “Best news presenter or anchor”, Stout hosts the network's evening program “World News Asia” from CNN's Asia Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong.

Stout’s recent coverage of major news events for the network’s international audience has focussed heavily on the global economic crisis, with particular emphasis on its impact in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition she has led coverage of U.S. President Barack Obama’s first year in office, the deteriorating security environment in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as North Korea's rocket launch and efforts to rein in its nuclear ambitions.

Since joining the network in 2001, her extensive assignments around the region have included reporting live from Beijing to cover the city’s preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games, from Tokyo on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s historic visit to Japan and live from Shanghai during CNN’s ‘Eye on China’ week of special programming.

Additional experience includes reports from the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea during the network’s ‘Eye on South Korea’ week of programming, an initiative which she is again fronting this year. She also reported from Banda Aceh, Indonesia after the Indian Ocean tsunami, and from Vietnam after its entry into the World Trade Organization.

Prior to “World News Asia,” Stout anchored “CNN Today”, the network’s Hong Kong morning news and business program. Earlier in her career at CNN, she was the network’s technology correspondent and host of the daily “Tech Watch” segment. In eight years since joining the network she has consistently reported on high-tech developments and continues to lead by example, by regularly tweeting while anchoring live ( .

She has conducted in-depth interviews with some of technology’s biggest newsmakers including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, founder Jeff Bezos, Linux creator Linus Torvalds and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Her career in journalism started in San Francisco at Wired magazine's online division. Stout has written on technology for various media outlets including the South China Morning Post, where she founded and wrote the “Beijing Byte” column.

She was one of the first employees to join the Beijing-based Internet portal and worked for Reuters' new media division in China. Stout holds both a bachelor's and a master's degree from Stanford University and studied advanced Mandarin Chinese at Beijing's Tsinghua University.

Her community efforts include speaking to university students across the region. She has lectured to journalism students at Peking University, Hong Kong University and the National University of Singapore.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lehman Bros' Fall -- One Year After...

TWO UPDATES for rumination by my ER interested in world business and economy. Maybe for Malaysia's leaders too IF they are capable oflearning from Others!:) -- YL, Desi fool of chic:( & knottyaSsusual:)


Obama Cites Need For Financial Rules, 1 Year After Lehman

By Jed Graham – Mon Sep 14, 7:21 pm ET

President Obama used the anniversary of Lehman Bros.' demise to renew his call for sweeping regulatory reforms and deliver a stern rebuke to Wall Street.

"Instead of learning the lessons of Lehman and the crisis from which we're still recovering, they're choosing to ignore those lessons," Obama said Monday at Federal Hall in New York's financial district. "They do so not just at their own peril, but at our nation's."

While touting his administration's role in restoring "capital and confidence" to the financial sector, Obama made the case for the most far-reaching regulatory overhaul of the industry since the Great Depression.

"Normalcy cannot lead to complacency," he said.

The Obama administration's reform plan, released in June, included giving the Federal Reserve authority over systemically important financial institutions, expanding powers to wind down too-big-to-fail firms, boosting bank capital levels and creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

Still No Consensus

The regulatory blueprint has met stiff resistance from the industry and various objections by regulators and lawmakers.

While Obama said he and Democratic banking panel chairmen still aim to pass legislation this year, analysts don't expect quick action.

"There are two problems," said Jaret Seiberg, a financial sector analyst at Concept Capital's Washington Research Group.

"There is a backlog of legislation that's higher up in the queue," said Seiberg, noting Obama's health care push as well as annual appropriations.

But the bigger issue is a lack of consensus.

"There's broad agreement on the need for financial reform but little agreement on the details," he said.

The Financial Services Roundtable on Monday voiced its opposition to Obama's proposal for a consumer financial protection agency.

"The better answer to consumer protection is to amend the charters of the existing prudential regulators, giving consumer protection parity with safety and soundness regulation," said Roundtable CEO Steve Bartlett.

Alex Pollock, resident fellow at the free market American Enterprise Institute, told the House banking panel in June that the worthy goal of "insuring clear, simple, straightforward, informative disclosures" for financial products like mortgages could be achieved without creating a new agency.

While there is broad philosophical agreement on the need for large financials -- including nonbank institutions -- to fail sometimes, Seiberg noted that a big question remains over how to finance this authority.

He said regulators could set higher leverage rules without legislation. He expects any overhaul passed before the 2010 midterm elections would be far narrower in scope than currently proposed.

Obama Eyes Political Boost

While Obama's regulatory plan remains unchanged since June, the political backdrop has evolved.

The summer, highlighted by town hall protests over Democratic health care plans, saw Obama's approval ratings fall near 50% as his honeymoon ended with independent voters.

Obama argued that his financial reforms would prevent future bailouts by putting "the cost of a firm's failures on those who own its stock and loaned it money."

He also defended his administration's decision Friday to slap duties of 35% on Chinese tires -- a victory for the United Steelworkers -- as a matter of enforcement, not protectionism.

But with the U.S. relying on China to help finance record deficits, Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Soleil Securities, questioned the move.

"Do you really want to antagonize the Chinese by starting a trade fight?" Valliere asked.

He interprets the action as a pay-off to Big Labor, a key part of Obama's base that is losing most high-profile battles, including over a government insurance option.


***2. From Business Times Singapore

Is the yuan about to go global?

The headquarter of China's Central Bank ,the People's Bank of China, in Beijing
October 8, 2008. — Reuters pic.

BEIJING, Sept 15With the rapid economic ascent of China in the new millennium, the explosion of the global crisis in 2008-09 and the consequent discrediting of the US and European financial models, as well as recent new policy initiatives adopted by Beijing towards its own currency, there have been growing debates and speculations on the future role of the yuan.

These have been further fuelled by senior officials of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), who have recently become increasingly vocal in world forums on the need for other economies to rely less on the US dollar as a reserve currency and trade settlement.
It is now commonly understood that for a currency to gain international stature, there must be strong demand by world traders, investors, and central bankers for the currency as, respectively, a medium of exchange for foreign trade settlement, a unit of account for denominating international financial transactions, and a store of value for central banks' foreign exchange reserves.
Economists generally agree that the three key economic pillars that are required to support the internationalisation of a currency are the size of an economy and its trade volume; the breadth, depth and liquidity of its capital markets; and the currency's stability and convertibility.
In terms of economic strength, with breakneck growth rates since the beginning of the 21st century, China managed to surpass the UK and Germany, respectively, in 2005 and 2007 to become the world's third largest economy.
Goldman Sachs has projected that China will overtake the US to become the world's largest economy by 2027, should China manage to continue to grow at its current rate.
However, a large GDP is not necessarily equal to a wealthy or healthy economy. Despite its No 3 world ranking in absolute economic size, China remains far behind the other leading economies in terms of average per capita income.
In the long run, even though China's GDP per capita is projected to surge exponentially to US$49,650 (RM174,000) by 2050 from US$2,432 in 2007, it will still lag far behind that of the US (US$91,683) and many other developed and emerging economies, according to Goldman Sachs.
Furthermore, despite optimistic projections of China's future growth potential, its economy is still beset by numerous imbalances and risks in the medium term. These include, among various things, persistent and even widening regional economic disparity and rural-urban income inequality, rising social unrest and inter- ethnic conflicts, rampant corruption, and serious environmental degradation.
An eruption of any one of these, or a combination of several, 'fault lines' could put a sharp brake on the ascent of the Chinese economy and concomitantly propel the yuan on to an inordinately volatile trajectory.
In terms of trade volume as a share of the world total, China's ratio was 5.1 per cent in 2007, and had already overtaken Japan and the UK in 2004.
In the first half of 2009, the World Trade Organization (WTO) reported that China had surpassed Germany to become the second largest exporting nation in the world.
Accompanying the surging foreign trade is the expanding trade settlement by the yuan, which has already evolved into a major currency for cross-border trade settlement with neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia and Mongolia. At the end of 2008, the Chinese government announced pilot programmes allowing Guangdong Province and Yangtze River Delta to use the yuan to settle trade deals with Hong Kong and Macao.
A similar arrangement has been proposed to allow Guangxi and Yunnan Provinces to use the yuan to settle trade accounts with selected Asean countries. Another recent and significant step is the announcement by the State Council that five trial cities — Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Dongguan — are designated to spearhead international trade settlement in the yuan with overseas counterparties.
Moreover, in order to mitigate exchange-rate risks arising from trade settlement in the dollar, China has entered into bilateral currency-swap agreements with a number of trading partners.
Since last December, PBOC has signed a total of 650 billion yuan (RM333 billion) worth of currency-swap agreements with Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Argentina and Belarus. In addition, PBOC is still in talks with other central banks to ink additional swap agreements, and is likely to expand them to cover all of the country's trade with Asia, excluding Japan.
Such recent progress signals that the Chinese government is beginning to set the yuan on a liberalisation path, starting with a gentle push of the unit to raise its profile as a medium of exchange in its regional backyard.
Aside from innate economic strength, the home country of an international currency should offer open and sophisticated transaction venues where foreign dealers can trade a range of the currency-denominated financial products, while at the same time put in place regulatory and macroeconomic safeguards to minimise the unit's volatility and exchange-rate-related risk.
Compared to other more developed capital markets elsewhere, it is clear that China's capital markets are still at an early stage and may take one to two decades to develop into comparable breadth and depth. By global standards, China has lower equity and bond market capitalisations to GDP ratios relative to those of issuing countries of major currencies.
Furthermore, despite a banking sector as large as 9.1 per cent of total global bank assets, China's equity and bond market capitalisations make up only 5.9 per cent and 2.4 per cent of the world's equity and bond markets respectively, according to Deutsche Bank Research.
Second, due to regulatory barriers on access to China's capital markets, the latter's interaction with foreign markets and openness to the rest of the world are still very restricted. In terms of inward portfolio investments to China, the average amount between 2003 and 2007nrepresented a mere 0.7 per cent of total portfolio investments globally.
As at mid 2009, only 87 foreign financial entities were entitled to QFII (qualified foreign institutional investor) status, which allows them to trade A-shares on secondary markets with an aggregate limit of US$30 billion, or just 1-2 per cent of the Shanghai exchange's market capitalisation. Furthermore, the purchase of B-shares is also limited to a selected group of foreign institutional investors, and Hong Kong-listed H-shares are but a fraction of the two mainland markets.
Third, low efficiency, high transaction costs, weak supervisory and regulatory frameworks have been major constraints to the integration between China's capital markets and the international financial system.
As for equity issuance, China still practises a merit-based approval system in comparison to registration-based systems in most mature capital markets overseas. According to a comparison of financial transaction costs done by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges have an average basis point of 50 (20 as average commission and 30 as transaction fee), which is much higher than the average of 21 in most mature markets. As for bond transaction costs, China has an average basis point of 6.3, dwarfing 1.0 in the UK, South Korea, India and Singapore, 0.4 in the US and 0.5 in Japan.
In view of the increasing competitiveness among world financial markets, the current bureaucratic supervisory system in China needs to be reformed to a more professional framework by international standards, and transaction costs also need to be reduced substantially.
Nevertheless, some progressive steps have been initiated recently to add more breadth and depth to China's capital markets. These include regulators' latest announcements of plans to allow qualified foreign-invested firms to list on the Shanghai exchange next year, raise investment limit per QFII from US$800 million to US$1 billion, and approve foreign banks to issue yuan-denominated corporate bonds.

A commemorative bank note with a face value of 10 yuan to mark the Beijing Olympic Games. — Reuters picLikewise, in an unprecedented move, the Ministry of Finance said this month that in order to 'promote the yuan in neighbouring countries and improve the yuan's international status', it would help establish an offshore yuan bond market by starting to sell 6 billion yuan worth of yuan-denominated sovereign bonds in Hong Kong to foreign institutional
and retail investors.
Despite these encouraging moves, going forward, it will take some years before China's capital markets can successfully transit to a more open and mature stage. According to the development strategies published by CSRC in 2008, it is forecast to take roughly a decade for China to undergo 'the drive to maturity stage' and build up well developed capital markets by the end of 2020. This would render full yuan internationalisation unlikely before that timeline.
Apart from the aforementioned 'physical' factors fundamental to the internationalisation of a currency, other 'psychological' factors such as public confidence in the value of the currency also play a supporting role.
Empirically, the stability of a currency can be gauged by its home economy's inflation rate, which for China averaged a very low rate of 1.1 per cent per annum during 1998-2007.
A second way of assessing currency stability can be measured by the unit's exchange rate volatility, which can be calculated as the standard deviation of daily percentage change in the exchange rate against the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).
Our calculation yields a score of 4.4 for the yuan during the same period — lower than those of the dollar (4.5), euro (5.4) and yen (8.2).
However, despite its low volatility, currently the yuan lacks the foremost prerequisite to become a global currency: free and full convertibility. While the yuan became convertible for trade transactions and conditionally for FDI (foreign direct investment) in 1994, it has been largely non-convertible for all portfolio capital transactions till now.
Nevertheless, recent policy initiatives taken by the government have demonstrated the likelihood of a faster pace towards capital account convertibility. According to Guo Shuqing, former head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the yuan will be convertible by 2010 for about 70 per cent of the 43 capital transaction items under the IMF classification.
Looking ahead to the medium term, the yuan is likely to evolve into only a regional currency first. It is probably too optimistic to expect the yuan to become a global currency before 2020, for reasons analysed earlier. As such, China is in no position to challenge the pre-eminent role of the US dollar in the near future. In addition, out of concern for political, economic and social stability, the Chinese government has adopted an extremely cautious approach towards financial liberalisation.
Therefore, it is not a sure conclusion that the government would have the political will to push forward aggressive reforms in capital markets, even though it has recently shown some interest in using the yuan for trade settlement. Furthermore, politically, it is also not certain whether other countries would have the confidence to accept the yuan for various international uses — a currency issued by a country controlled by a communist party. — Business Times Singapore

****************************** 'Cos I work so heArt for my ER! ~~ TWO more updates, Sept 17, 2009:

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Asian stocks hit year high

SYDNEY, Sept 16
Asian shares swept to their highest levels in more than a year today after upbeat US economic news boosted riskier assets leveraged to global growth, while the dollar slipped to a one-year low. Commodities also benefited from the wave of optimism, with gold spiking to an 18-month high above US$1,020 (RM3,570) an ounce and crude oil briefly climbing above US$71 a barrel.

Most major Asian stock indexes posted gains of at least a per cent in the wake of yesterday’s strong reading on US retail sales, with exporting countries leading the way.

Hong Kong shares rose 2.6 per cent to a near 13-month closing high, while South Korea’s KOSPI climbed 1.8 per cent to a 15-month closing peak and Australia’s resource-packed S&P/ASX 200 index jumped 2.4 per cent to an 11-month high.
“The sentiment is phenomenal. Right across the board it’s green as a vegetable garden in spring,” said Michael Heffernan, senior client adviser and strategist, Austock Group in Sydney.

“It’s chalk and cheese compared to a year ago when there was no confidence. Now people are gradually getting confidence back. The sentiment and the ambience of the market is decidedly upbeat,” he said.

While Heffernan was referring to the Australian market, his sentiment seemed to be shared across the region.

The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares excluding Japan rose more than 2.5 per cent to levels not seen since last September. The regional benchmark is now up about 56 per cent for the year.

Investors even managed to look past a 1.1 per cent decline in the volatile Shanghai market, virtually the only market in the region to fall today.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei added a more modest 0.5 per cent, restrained in part by uncertainty over the economic policies of the new government.

Yukio Hatoyama officially took over as prime minister today, ushering in an untested government to deal with a struggling economy and the problems of a fast-ageing population.

Hatoyama, whose Democratic Party thrashed the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party in an election last month, faces pressure to make good on campaign promises to focus spending on consumers, cut waste and reduce bureaucratic control over policy. The Bank of Japan began a two-day policy meeting, but analysts weren’t holding their breath for the outcome given rates are already near zero and policymakers are reluctant to go any further with exceptional easing measures.


The gains for Asian stocks came courtesy of better US news.
US retail sales jumped 2.7 per cent in August, the fastest growth in 3-½ years, data showed yesterday.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke felt confident enough to declare the US recession “very likely over”, though he added that the recovery would be very slow.
The rise in sales added to expectations US economic growth would stage a sizable rebound in the third quarter, thanks in part to businesses rebuilding inventories to meet demand.

That in turn augured well for the exporting nations of Asia and their currencies, especially those of big commodity producers such as Australia.

“As the global recovery continues and risk diversification takes place we could see the US dollar stay under pressure for the next six months,” said Amber Rabinov, an economist in foreign exchange and international economics at ANZ in Sydney.

Measured against a basket of major currencies, the dollar slipped to another year low while the euro powered to a new 2009 high.
The dollar also eased to around 90.20 yen, partly on talk investors were using the US currency for carry trades.

Until recently, the low-yielding yen was the currency of choice for investors who borrow cheap to buy riskier assets or high-yielding currencies. But that has changed since 3-month US LIBOR rates fell below Japanese rates.

“We expect the dollar to test its recent lows on the yen, and probably fall as low as 87 yen as talk of it replacing the yen as a funding currency gathers momentum,” said Rabinov. — Reuters


Wall Street rises on commodities, M&A

NEW YORK, Sept 16 — US stocks rose slightly today on gains in commodity prices and renewed merger and acquisition activity.

US industrial production rose for the second straight month in August, while higher gasoline costs pushed up consumer prices, reinforcing hopes a recovery was underway.
“It’s particularly encouraging to see the manufacturing sector of the economy recover,” said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors in Albany, NY.

“It’s like all the other numbers we’ve seen in that they’ve been better than expected, and that’s what bull markets are all about.”

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 18.21 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 9,701.62. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 2.49 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 1,055.12. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 5.95 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 2,108.59.
The S&P hit a new high for the year shortly after the open, and is now up 56 per cent from the March 9 low.

Adobe Systems Inc said it plans to pay US$1.8 billion (RM6.3 billion) for fast-growing business software maker Omniture Inc as Adobe, the maker of Photoshop and Acrobat looks to turn around declining sales.
Adobe shares fell 6.6 per cent to US$33.26, while Omniture shares surged 26 per cent to US$21.82.

M&A activity is considered a positive sign for the economy as businesses display confidence in their capital positions and begin to spend.

Gold hit an 18-month high of US$1,020.50 an ounce and helped lift silver and platinum to multi-month peaks. Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc shares rose 1.5 per cent to US$72.37.

Genworth Financial Inc climbed 6 per cent to US$12.76 a day after it priced a common share offering.

Rogers Corp rose 7.7 per cent to US$29.09 after the maker of specialty materials for electronics and consumer markets raised its outlook, citing strong performance in its printed circuit materials and high performance foams segments.

Verizon Communications Inc capped gains on the Dow, down 2.6 per cent to US$30.20. UBS downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “buy,” saying the telecommunications company is likely to miss its outlook for 2009 earnings growth.

Corning Inc dropped 2.2 per cent to US$15.45 after it said it acquired all of the outstanding shares of Axygen Bioscience and its subsidiaries from American Capital Ltd for US$400 million. American Capital jumped 30 per cent to US$3.35. — Reuters

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just for BUMmers' Record...

and Convenience. See how altruistic Desi is -- at Thy Service for No Fees!:(
Read my previous post and you will know the concept of "Karma" has had an effect on me for some time. Sometimes my sleep pattern is interspersed with loud cries of jubilation on striking the Big Lotto so that Desi can do more philanthropistic acts -- rewarded with 15 minutes of media fame, off course! Didn't translate into Reality shows yet. Nyet, and Oprah did knot invite Desi to takepart on her BIG GIVE!:(

Desi does quite (which is a funny word in English with democratic meanings of a few, several or many, your choice!) incidentally Cut&Pastrying of items for the convenience of self and other BUMmers in case they missed the menu, women2!

Here's one from the MI/Wall Street Journal. I know about Intellectual Property Rights -- in my limited vocab, it can translate into the availability to borrow for use and effort of God's gift tohuman minds as long as the receivers use such items for the beteerment of humanity, and acknowledge the original source/s, and intend to pay in cash orkind. For the kind, Desi repays in kind -- the cash will follow once his Blog ghets a sucker of a buyer on eBoy for 20million:)

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Southeast Asia Web censoring widens
Internet users surf at a cyber cafe in Kuala Lumpur in this file photo - Reuters pic
BANGKOK, Sept 15 — Attempts to censor the Internet are spreading to Southeast Asia as governments turn to coercion and intimidation to rein in online criticism.

Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam lack the kind of technology and financial resources that China and some other large countries use to police the Internet. The Southeast Asian nations are using other methods — also seen in China — to tamp down criticism, including arresting some bloggers and individuals posting contentious views online.

That is distressing free-speech advocates who had hoped that Southeast Asia - until recently a region where Internet use was relatively unfettered — would become a model of open debate in the developing world as its economies modernise.

Malaysia has recently used its colonial-era Internal Security Act, which allows detention for up to two years without trial, to muzzle bloggers. Thailand is ramping up its reliance on a recently introduced Computer Crimes Act to restrict criticism of its royal family and limit the spread of what the government calls seditious material. Vietnam, an authoritarian Communist state, has been arresting people caught posting thoughts that run contrary to government policy, and has detained lawyers who try to defend them.

“A number of governments in the region have discovered they can't use technology alone to block out dissent because people will always find a way around it,” says Roby Alampay, executive director of a Bangkok-based media advocacy group, the Southeast Asia Press Alliance. “Instead they are trying to send out the message that the government is watching what their citizens are up to, and many of these arrests are deliberately high-profile.”

To be sure, not every government in the region is trying to bolt down the Internet. Singapore, where mainstream media are largely controlled by the government, has taken a relatively hands-off approach to the Internet. The governments of Indonesia and the Philippines don't limit political content on the Internet in their countries.

The case of Raja Petra Kamarudin, Malaysia's best-known blogger, reveals a different approach. The 58-year-old prince, or raja, in one of Malaysia's royal families started his feisty Malaysia Today news Web site a decade ago after the arrest of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges, which Anwar denied. Anwar was convicted, jailed until the conviction was overturned, and is now being prosecuted again on sodomy charges, which he again is denying.

Since launching his Web site, Raja Petra has been a thorn in the side of Malaysia's ruling National Front coalition, posting a series of articles notable for their criticism of the government. In 2008, his postings led to his detention for nearly two months under the Internal Security Act.

Malaysian authorities have accused Raja Petra of suggesting in a letter to prosecutors investigating the murder of a Mongolian model in 2006 that Prime Minister Najib Razak was involved in the killing, which Najib denies. Raja Petra was charged with sedition and went into hiding. He says the charge is misdirected because he didn't publish the letter, though he admits writing it and stands by its contents.

Malaysian government spokesman Tengku Sharifuddin Tengku Ahmad declined to comment about Raja Petra's allegations, and he didn't respond to questions about the broader issues surrounding Malaysia's approach to censorship.

Malaysia's government is careful not to be seen to be directly censoring the Internet because of a longstanding pledge not to interfere online and potentially scare off foreign technology companies, such as Microsoft Corp., which operate there.

In August, Najib's government backed off from implementing Web filters similar to those used in China to weed out certain political topics and other contentious discussions. It has also considered requiring that bloggers register with the government, but decided not to implement the rule.

Instead, says Raja Petra, Malaysia's authorities are using criminal laws “to make an example of me so that others will run away from the truth,” although he says their efforts will backfire. “Other bloggers are becoming more vocal and more aggressive.”

Some media analysts suggest governments are catching up with the impact of the Internet and mobile-phone messaging and how they helped to trigger social upheavals in countries such as Ukraine and the Philippines. Iran's success in putting down Twitter and Facebook-driven protests this summer may have lent some indirect encouragement, too.

“Even if governments aren't censoring outright, they are providing an adequate disincentive to posting criticism. People now know there will be consequences,” says Rebecca MacKinnon, a professor of journalism and media studies at the University of Hong Kong and a co-founder of GlobalVoices, an international citizens' media Web site.

In Thailand, police last month arrested two people for forwarding an audio recording in which Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva purportedly orders soldiers to attack antigovernment demonstrators. Abhisit said the recording is fake. Another Thai, Suwicha Thakor, was sentenced to 10 years in jail in June after pleading guilty to posting videos mocking Thailand's revered monarchy.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn says the country's computer-crime laws are designed to protect people from fraud and defamation, and says the laws are at times being used to address what he describes as “national security” issues.

In recent weeks in Vietnam, meanwhile, popular blogger Bui Thanh Hieu was detained for several days after criticising the government's mining policies; another blogger, Huy Duc, was fired from his job at a Ho Chi Minh City newspaper after the Communist Party complained about his posts, while others have also been briefly detained. Yesterday, blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh said in a note posted on her Web site that she is abandoning blogging after police detained her for several days after she made some critical remarks about the government. “I came to blogging as an adventure in the world of information, but every game comes to an end,” Quynh said.

A Vietnamese foreign-ministry spokeswoman on Thursday said the bloggers had been detained to enable police to investigate alleged violations of national security.

Internet-freedom advocates worry that more governments beyond Southeast Asia will follow the region's lead and try to take additional steps to tighten Internet controls.

“Being blocked from visiting a Web site is frustrating,” Alampay, the Bangkok-based activist, says. “But when you see or hear about people being arrested, then that could stop you from logging on at all.” — Wall Street Journal