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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has fired back at US senators who criticized abuses during his ‘war on drugs.’ While the US lawmakers  opposed any possible trip by Duterte to America, the leader said he had  no intention of visiting the “lousy” country.       
“There will never be a time that I will go to America during my term, or even thereafter,” Duterte said on Friday, as quoted by Reuters.

The Philippine leader was also surprised that the senators would think he was willing to go to the US.
“I've seen America and it's lousy,” Duterte said.

The  statement came in response to Thursday’s hearings at the Tom Lantos  Human Rights Commission in the US Congress, where senators accused  Duterte’s domestic anti-drug campaign of widespread abuses and  casualties.

The co-chair of the commission, Jim McGovern, opposed a visit by President Duterte to the US, saying that he would protest such  a move due to multiple violations of human rights by the leader.

Hitting back at the accusations, Duterte advised Washington to look at its own “sins” and threatened to investigate them, referring to civilian casualties during wars in the Middle East.

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Comic artist Sonny Liew has become the first Singaporean to win an Eisner Award, the comic industry’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Nominated in six categories for graphic novel “The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye”, Liew triumphed in three. He won in the Best Writer/Artist, Best US Edition of International Material – Asia, Best Publication Design and categories

The award ceremony, which took place at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront on Saturday morning (22 July) Singapore time, is held annually at the San Diego Comic Convention. Awards were give out to comic creators and works in 30 categories, with the winners chosen via online voting by industry professionals.

Liew had the most Eisner nominations of any creator in 2017, also being nominated in the categories ofBest Graphic Album – New, Best Colouring and Best Lettering.

The Eisner award caps two years of international accolades and acclaim for Liew, including the 2016 Singapore Literature Prize, ever since “Charlie Chan” was released. It has also garnered glowing reviews in major publications such as The New York Times, The Economist and The Washington Post.

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News, Current Affairs Discussions / Chee Soon Juan: The PAP is lost.
« on: July 22, 2017, 03:09:14 pm »
THE CHALLENGES THAT confront our nation are numerous as they are grave. The scary part is that the PAP shows no sign that it knows how to take the country forward.

Retail, as we know it, is dead. With online shopping taking root, our shopping centres are emptying out. But the problem goes far beyond a shift in consumer behaviour. High rental and other business costs are the bane of many a retailer.

Take it from someone who is intimate with the industry: Cathay Organisation’s executive director Choo Meileen. Ms Choo pointed out that private developers and landlords have to bear the very high costs of development such as submission fees, fees to engineers, and development charges to the Government. “It is not the landlord who is the beneficiary of all these fees and costs,” she said without mincing words, “it is the Government.”

As a result, brands such as Marks & Spencer, John Little and Coca-Cola have moved out to cheaper locations in the region. Local food chains like Sakae Sushi and Banquet Foodcourt have also had to shutter, or at least close multiple outlets in Sakae’s case, due to high costs.

In the oil & gas sector, between 10 and 20 multinationals – including Subsea 7, McDermott, Technip, and Saipem – have made the exit to Malaysia over the last few years. All cite cost as the primary driver behind the exodus.

Not far behind are the pharmaceutical companies. In the last 5 years or so, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis have all left the island.

Banks are also down-sizing or shipping out. In recent months, ANZ, Barclays, Standard Chartered, HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs, and ING have trimmed their operations in Singapore.

All this has hit office rental hard. In 2015, new office leases declined by more than 50 percent.
Runaway costs don’t just affect businesses. Singaporean households increasingly find themselves struggling in debt due to high living costs here. Household debt in Singapore has grown dramatically in recent years stemming mainly from housing loans.

As a result, nearly half of Singaporean households either have little or no savings. These families, according to the study by CLSA (Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia), “do not have enough funds readily available to cope with unexpected financial expenses” such as a sudden medical crisis or retrenchment.
On top of this, a majority of older Singaporeans, feel that they will be unable to pursue a secure retirement with their current savings and investments. Only 36 percent of Singaporeans between 40 and 60 are confident that their savings are enough for retirement.

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Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo may be 32 now, but he still has the moves, even off the field.

The Real Madrid superstar sidestepped a throng of about 100 media and fans at the Thomson Medical Centre on Friday (July 21) and left the premises surreptitiously after visiting billionaire Singaporean Peter Lim's daughter Kim Lim.

The younger Lim was recuperating at the medical facility after giving birth days ago.

Ronaldo is understood to have arrived in Singapore just after 9am on Friday.

The former Manchester United player is here on a whistle-stop trip to sign a "major endorsement deal, according to Mint Media, which is owned by Peter Lim.

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New Delhi (CNN)A relatively unknown political operator and member of India's lowest Dalit caste has been elected as the country's 14th president.

Ram  Nath Kovind, who until recently was governor of the eastern state of  Bihar, won an overwhelming majority to beat opposition Congress party candidate, Meira Kumar, a former parliament speaker and also a member of  the Dalit community.Kovind  secured 2,930 votes in a secret nationwide ballot involving near to  5,000 lawmakers from the central parliament and state legislatures.  Kumar received 1,844 votes. 

The election of 71-year-old  Kovind, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate, is widely  viewed as part of a strategy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to widen  support among India's 200 million-strong Dalit community.

Kovind is the second Dalit to become Indian president, after K. R. Narayanan, in office from 1997 to 2002.
Dalits,  who are often referred to as untouchables, occupy the lowest rung on  India's caste system.

Traditionally viewed as "impure" the group continues to grapple with persecution and exclusion. 

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SINGAPORE: The High Court on Friday (Jul 21) dismissed the appeal of a Saudi diplomat convicted of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old hotel employee while on holiday in Singapore in 2016.

Diplomat Bander Yahya A Alzahrani’s jail term of 26 months and one week, and four strokes of the cane, was also upheld. He will start serving his sentence on Jul 28.

Alzahrani was found guilty of three charges – including one for molest and two for aggravated molest – in February, after an eight-day trial. The Beijing-based diplomat had been in Singapore on holiday with his wife and three children on Aug 14, 2016, when he committed the offences.

Alzahrani was alone with the victim, who was showing him around a hotel room, when he cornered her in the bathroom and sexually assaulted her. He also forced her to touch him.

The diplomat claimed the woman had accused him of molesting her in order to extort money from him.

In the High Court on Friday, defence lawyer Shashi Nathan urged Judge of Appeal Steven Chong to re-look at the evidence, in the form of closed-circuit television footage of Alzahrani and the victim walking out of the hotel room after the assault.


Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington has committed suicide at age 41. TMZ first reported that Bennington  hanged himself at his Palos Verdes residence on Thursday, July  20, after which the L.A. County coroner confirmed to Associated Press  that Bennington had died. Linkin Park bandmate Mike Shinoda tweeted "shocked and heartbroken, but it's true. An official statement will come out as soon as we have one."
Bennington struggled with drug and alcohol addictions at various times during his life. He spoke openly about both, as well as about being molested by an older man when he was a child. Bennington was  married and is survived by six children.

The band's most recent album, One More Light, topped the Billboard 200 earlier this year.

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President Donald Trump has said the new Republican healthcare policy should be to allow the current law to collapse.

"I'm not going to own it," Mr Trump told reporters of Obamacare, "I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it."

Support for the Republican Senate bill fell apart on Monday when two more senators said they could not back it.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Mr Trump was "playing a dangerous game" with the US healthcare system.

"He is actively, actively trying to undermine the healthcare system in this country using millions of Americans as political pawns in a cynical game", Mr Schumer said on Tuesday.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said the chamber would vote early next week on a motion for repealing Obamacare only.

But with at least three Republicans against the plan B, it is probably doomed, too.
Call it Mr Trump's "Joker" option for Obamacare repeal. Do nothing, and watch the world burn.

Explaining how your dastardly plan will go down seldom works for cartoon villains, however, and it may not be the best strategy for presidents either.

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REAL estate and investment firm Rowsley said on Tuesday night that controlling shareholder, Singapore billionaire Peter Lim, will be injecting 100 per cent of Thomson Medical Pte Ltd and 70.36 per cent of Bursa Malaysia-listed TMC Life Sciences into the firm.

Rowsley's proposed acquisitions are valued at up to S$1.9 billion, and will be financed through up to 25.3 billion new shares issued to Mr Lim at S$0.075 a share. Warrants will also be issued to existing shareholders upon completion.

A sales and purchase agreement is expected to be completed within two months.
Thomson Medical Pte Ltd owns and operates Thomson Medical Centre, a hospital that focuses on obstetrics and gynaecology and paediatric services.

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There are many reasons why GIC is ill-suited to manage our retirement savings.

In this post, I will just highlight an instance of GIC’s sneakiness in its attempt to mislead CPF members on its returns.

In the past, when GIC first started to disclose data on its performance, it had disclosed 20-year returns in Sing dollar. Due to the Global Financial Crisis, nominal and real returns in S$ collapsed to 4.4% and 2.6% respectively as at 31 March 2009.

After hitting a record low in 2009, GIC’s annualized 20-year return suddenly shot up to 7.1% in its 2010 annual report. This was unbelievable considering the returns in the preceding 4 years before the collapse did not surpass 7%.

Hmm .. how did scholars in GIC create money out of thin air?

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News, Current Affairs Discussions / A 5-year Legal Battle with NUS
« on: July 19, 2017, 07:25:27 pm »
Here’s my encounter

I started my MA programme at NUS in January 2002, and I completed my MA thesis in February 2005. NUS passed my MA thesis in 2006 and even sent me the letter for the commencement ceremony. However, several months later, NUS imposed a new requirement for me to graduate – a written undertaking to accept the university’s decisions regarding my complaint against my MA supervisor. This issue was totally unrelated to the graduation requirements.

When I refused to bow to the University’s threat, NUS terminated my MA candidature and denied me my MA degree – a degree that had already cost me more than three years of my life. Because of this, I had to leave a PhD programme in the United States (in 2007) after the first academic year there. The university had accepted me into the PhD programme with the understanding that NUS would be conferring me my MA degree certificate.

Not only did I lose out on opportunities for future employment as an academic after leaving my PhD programme, I had to undergo the embarrassment of explaining to people around me why I did not get my MA degree from NUS and why I could not continue in my PhD programme in the US.

This legal battle with NUS began in 2012 and it is extremely trying, given the imbalance of resources. I have sued NUS for:

(a) breach of contract;

(b) the tort of misfeasance in public office;

(c) the tort of intimidation; and

(d) the tort of negligence.

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An Audi commercial equating women to used cars has riled up consumers in China.

The Chinese commercial opens with a young couple on the cusp of getting  married, when the groom's mother suddenly interrupts the ceremony to  inspect the bride.

After yanking the bride's nose  and ears, and prying open her jaw to inspect her teeth, the mom appears  satisfied and gives the couple the okay. She casts one last disapproving look at the bride's chest before the scene changes to an Audi driving  through city streets as a voice-over says "an important decision must be  made carefully."

The ad ends with a plug for used Audi vehicles, with the male narrator  saying: "Only with official certification can you be rest assured." 

It did not go over well.

A growing number  of Chinese consumers have taken to Weibo, China's Twitter, to slam the  German carmaker. Many called the ad sexist and some even vowed to boycott Audi vehicles.

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Chit Chat Corner / Inside Orchard Towers: Vice, or Life?
« on: July 19, 2017, 02:34:40 pm »
A regular patron introduces us to the inner lives of the denizens inhabiting Singapore’s infamous ‘Four Floors of Whores'
An acrid mix of stale beer, puke and  cigarette smoke assaults my nose, as I ascend the small flight of steps  into Orchard Towers.

Again. For the third time this week.

Familiar faces greet me on my left and  right, many belonging to people I have come to call friends in the years  I have visited Orchard Towers. Amidst the sinister-looking individuals  sporting tattoos, dyed hair and menacing looks, I feel right at home in  this tower of sleaze.

Orchard Towers has always been an image of  debauchery. In the eyes of the average Singaporean, it’s the place  where expats go to spend a ton of money on scantily clad girls they barely know, in the hopes of getting laid.

As a regular patron of Orchard Towers, I  find no fault with the stereotype. But as my tenure here as a ‘regular’  extends in mileage, I cannot help but find myself starting to disagree  with the branding.

People ask me why I frequent Orchard  Towers, citing the dangers of the place; the sleaze, scams, and slew of  shady activities. I always tell them the same thing: Never judge a tower  by its looks.

Coming from an F&B background, it’s  common for us to end work anywhere between 1- 4am, depending on the  density of the nightly crowd at our establishments. 80-90% of the  drinking spots close around 3am, while the clubs at Orchard Towers stay  open throughout the early morning, and until as late as 9am on weekends  and the eves of public holidays. What better place for us F&B  veterans to unwind after a long shift?

Where people see hookers, gangsters and  losers, I see friends, guardians and music lovers.  I have called  Orchard Towers home. I have been a patron, a sucker, and a friend to  many of the regular visitors and residents here.


In my early days, I came to Orchard Towers  as a patron, using alcohol and sleaze to get over the failure of my  second marriage. I had met a nice girl here, with whom I opened a small  pub with in her home town in Laguna, Philippines a few months later. But  that’s another tale for another time.

At the end of my six-month long business  venture in Philippines, I returned to Singapore, and started again at  the bottom. I found a nice job in a rock club that paid peanuts, but  allowed me to drink on the job as long as I stayed sober till the end of  my shift (which wasn’t difficult, given my drinking history). Here, I  met fellow rock enthusiasts, alcoholics and night owls alike.

Within my first week there, I met ‘D’, a  DJ in his thirties who spun at the club occasionally. A younger version  of D used to get into a ton of fist fights, and he had a glaring scar at  the back of his shiny bald head to show for it. Aptly, that scar  resembled the general shape of a fist with a raised middle finger,  literally sticking it to anyone who spoke ill of him behind his back.

As age mellowed his temper, D turned into a  loud mouth with a thirst for Guinness, and fought his battles with his  tongue rather than his fists.

We got along really well, due to our  common interests of Irish dry stouts and debating, and my drink hustling  skills always got him high before the end of his shift.

Naturally, he started inviting me to Orchard Towers post shift, to knock back a few more drinks before calling it a night.

I still remember the first time I walked  into Orchard Towers with him. I was part of a celebrity’s chaperone  group. There wasn’t a person in Orchard Towers who didn’t know ‘D’:   shoulder slap to the right; fist bump to the left;  full contact  ‘bro-hugs’ all around. All I could do was smile sheepishly while he  basked in his glory. We never paid for a single drink that night.

“I could get used to this”, I thought to myself, at that moment at least.

Many drinks later, D was properly smashed  for the night. We teetered on jelly feet to throw him in a cab at 7 in  the morning, with a taxi queue as long as the Hello Kitty queues outside  MacDonalds back in the late 90’s.

In the 3 months I spent working at the club, this went on two to three times a week.

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Donald Trump has declared this week “Made in America” week. According to the White House, it’s an opportunity for the president to showcase “products that are made in America”.
Unfortunately for Trump, that description would rule out many of the products he and members of his family have made and sold. From Donald J Trump Collection clothing to Trump Vodka to Trump: the Game, the president has a track record of not making things in America.

The week was scheduled to kick off at the White House on Monday, with Trump walking around some tables looking at products made in all 50 states. So in honour of the president’s communist-dictator-esque photo opportunity, here’s a look at some not-made-in-America Trump gear.


Trump Vodka (“The finish is disappointingly harsh” – was an ill-fated attempt by Trump to branch into the spirits world. The vodka (“No discernable flavor” – Chicagoist) was manufactured in the Netherlands by a company called Wanders Distillery and launched in the US in 2006.
But the beverage (“My taste buds unfortunately associate the flavor with the smell of paint” – VodkaBuzz) failed to sell. The trademark was abandoned in 2008, according to Rolling Stone. By 2011, Trump Vodka was “out of circulation”.

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The federal government’s top ethics chief is resigning on Wednesday. And he’s torching the Trump administration on his way out.

Walter M. Shaub Jr., director of the Office of Government Ethics, told the New York Times that President Trump’s apparent disdain for long-established ethical norms has undermined the credibility of the United States around the world.

“It’s hard for the United States to pursue international anticorruption and ethics initiatives when we’re not even keeping our own side of the street clean,” Shaub told the Times in an article published Monday. “I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point.”

Shaub — who has been a vocal critic of Trump’s since his election — said the president’s frequent trips to his family-owned golf clubs are a microcosm of just how blurry the line between the White House and Trump brand has become.

“It creates the appearance of profiting from the presidency,” Shaub said. “Misuse of position is really the heart of the ethics program, and the internationally accepted definition of corruption is abuse of entrusted power. It undermines the government ethics program by casting doubt on the integrity of government decision making.”

Trump spent last weekend at another one of his golf courses, and repeatedly promoted the U.S. Women’s Open Championship held there.

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