Thursday, May 28, 2009

N. Korea pulls out of 1953 truce

Pyongyang threatens military strikes against the South, says safety of ships at risk
North Korean soldiers and officials at a pro-Kim Jong Il propaganda rally in Pyongyang on Tuesday, celebrating a successful second nuclear test in defiance of global condemnation. Analysts suspect the military grandstanding is to tighten leader Kim's grip on power and divert attention from economic woes. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL: - North Korea said yesterday it was abandoning the truce that ended the Korean War, and warned it could launch a military attack on the South, two days after testing an atomic bomb for the second time.

The announcement came amid reports that the secretive North, which outraged the international community with its bomb test on Monday, was restarting production of weapons-grade plutonium.

Defying global condemnation, the Kim Jong Il regime said it could no longer guarantee the safety of US and South Korean ships off its west coast, and that the Korean peninsula was veering back towards war.

South Korea, divided from the North by a heavily fortified border. The maritime border has long been a flashpoint between the two Koreas. North Korea disputes the line unilaterally drawn by the UN at the end of the Koreas' three-year war in 1953, and has demanded it be redrawn further south.

The armistice signed in 1953, which is not a permanent peace treaty, and subsequent military agreements call for both sides to refrain from warfare, but do not cover the waters off the west coast. North Korea has used the maritime border dispute to provoke two deadly naval skirmishes - in 1999 and 2002.

Analysts say Pyongyang's military grandstanding is partly aimed at tightening leader Kim Jong Il's grip on power to better engineer his succession and divert attention from a weak economy, which has fallen into near ruin since he took over in 1994.


Monday, May 25, 2009

SBQ and Gymnastics

Do you like to watch gymnastics? I do! It's amazing how these gymnast are able to perform the kind of routines they do. They must have gone through alot of practise for those few minutes of performance that would decide their placing.

How is doing SBQ like doing gymnastics?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Federal Republic of Germany Turns 60

The year 2009 is a big one for Germany. This weekend marks 60 years since the postwar founding of German democracy. SPIEGEL ONLINE has collected a series of photos documenting Germany's rise out of the ashes of war, and some of the hurdles along the way. Germany has no shortage of events to celebrate in 2009. This fall, it will be exactly two decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the landmark event which led to the reunification of Germany.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sharapova wins comeback match in Poland

Sharapova, who last played a singles match in July after being sidelined with a torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder, wore a bandage on the arm but said the shoulder didn't bother her.

She cruised through the first set and grabbed a quick 4-0 lead in the second before her serve started to falter. Serving at 5-3, she wasted four match points - double faulting on two of them - and then failed to convert two more in the tie-break before netting a forehand to give the set to Garbin.

In the third, the Russian dropped an early break before rallying with her trademark groundstrokes to overpower the Italian. Sharapova held serve to go up 5-3, then converted her third match point when Garbin knocked a backhand long.

Once ranked No. 1 in the world, Sharapova's ranking has slid to No. 126 since her injury forced her to miss the last two Grand Slams.

Sharapova refused to speculate about next week's French Open, saying she was only thinking about Warsaw this week. But she stressed that playing matches was the only way to return to her championship form.

"I've been absent for so long, and I've said it many times, you can do so many things, you can practice and you can play practice matches, but it's never the same as going out and playing in a tournament, and I think that's what I'll need," she said.

"I've played millions of matches in my career, and I'll play millions more, and I think right now it's just going to be getting that experience back and the thought process on the court and doing the right things to finish the match."

Thoughts: How similar are Sharapova's comments about playing her best tennis to doing doing well in an examination?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Still alive: Rebels

COLOMBO - SRI Lanka's Tamil Tigers denied on Tuesday that their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran had been killed by the military, insisting that the rebel chief was alive and well.

'Our beloved leader is alive and safe. He will continue to lead the quest for dignity and freedom for the Tamil people,' the Tigers' chief of international relations, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, said in a statement carried on the pro-rebel Tamilnet website.

The Sri Lankan military said on Monday that Prabhakaran had been shot dead with two of his top commanders as they attempted to flee advancing troops in an ambulance.

But Pathmanathan said the government had fabricated news of his death in order 'to gloat' following its final military victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

'We categorically reject this,' he said, without making any claim to Prabhakaran's current whereabouts.

'The Tamil freedom struggle is a just cause and will not be quashed by the events of the last 24 hours. Truth and justice will always prevail,' he said.

Pathmanathan went on to accuse the Sri Lankan government and military of 'crimes against humanity,' saying senior LTTE leaders had been shot dead after being invited to negotiate their surrender. -- AFP

TV shows rebel's 'body'

May 19, 2009
This undated photograph released by the Sri Lankan army on Tuesday claims to show the dead body of Tamil Tiger rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. -- PHOTO: AP
COLOMBO - SRI Lanka's president proclaimed victory over the Tamil Tigers on Tuesday after decades of civil war, with state television showing what it said was the corpse of rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The images were shown after the Tigers announced the guerrilla leader was still alive and well, and that they would continue fighting for a separate Tamil homeland despite President Mahinda Rajapakse's call to unite the nation.

Under international pressure to reach out to the Tamil minority, Mr Rajapakse vowed in a nationally televised speech that 'terrorism' had been defeated and that a political solution to the island's ethnic divisions would be found.

'We are a government that defeated terrorism at a time when others told us that it was not possible,' the president said. 'The writ of the state now runs across every inch of our territory.'

With the end of a civil war that began when Prabhakaran founded the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1972, Mr Rajapakse stressed that their defeat did not mean subjugation for the country's Tamils.

'All should live with equal rights. They should live without any fear or doubt,' he said. 'Let us all be united.' His speech had been shadowed by a Tiger statement insisting that Mr Prabhakaran was not dead.

But the army chief, General Sarath Fonseka, responded by reaffirming that Mr Prabhakaran had been shot dead on Monday, and state television showed footage of what it said was his body.

The images showed the upper section of a corpse which was dressed in camouflage fatigues. Part of the forehead was covered with a blue cloth, and the head was resting on a bloodstained newspaper.

The face was intact, with the eyes wide open, and bore a clear resemblance to the rebel leader, an AFP correspondent said.

The conflicting accounts of the Tiger leader's fate came after a dramatic day that effectively ended one of Asia's oldest and most brutal ethnic conflicts. -- AFP

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tamil tigers admit defeat

May 17, 2009

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - The Tamil Tiger rebels admitted defeat in their 25-year-old war with the Sri Lankan government on Sunday, offering to lay down their guns as government forces swept across their last strongholds in the northeast.

The government rejected the last-ditch call for a cease-fire, saying the thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone all have escaped to safety and there was no longer any reason to stop the battle.

With the war nearing its end, Sri Lankans poured into the streets in spontaneous celebration.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa scheduled a nationally televised news conference for Tuesday morning at Parliament, where he was expected to tell the nation the war was over.

The fate of the Tamil Tigers' top commanders remained unclear, including the whereabouts of the reclusive rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

A senior military official said troops found the bodies of several rebel fighters who had committed suicide Sunday when troops surrounded them.

The bodies were suspected of being Prabhakaran and his deputies, but the military was still trying to confirm their identities, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The rebels, who once controlled a wide swath of the north, have been routed by government forces in recent months.

On Sunday, Tamil Tiger suicide bombers targeted troops clearing out the last pockets of rebel resistance in the war zone and troops killed at least 70 rebels trying to flee, the military said.

On Sunday afternoon, the tattered and nearly defeated rebel group offered to lay down its arms, saying it was acting to protect the wounded in the war zone. -- AP

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cheers and jeers for Nanjing film

BEIJING: - Ms Huang Lingling had tears streaming down her face as she watched the horrific events of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre unfold in a new box-office hit, City Of Life And Death.

'The film reminded me of how brutal war is. Many people walked out midway through the show because they couldn't take it,' said the 37-year-old manager of a foreign company. 'It was also the first time I had seen a film portraying the invasion from a very different - that is, a Japanese - perspective.'

It is precisely director Lu Chuan's depiction of the atrocities, seen through the eyes of a humane Japanese soldier haunted by his helplessness to stop the slaughter ordered by his superiors, that has made the film a magnet for controversy.

While the movie 'revives nationalist feelings', Mr Lu 'was right to tell this story from the viewpoint of a Japanese soldier', he said. 'He wasn't trying to improve the image of the Japanese, but to give another perspective of the events.'

Not all Chinese are comfortable with this paradigm shift, however. Some young Chinese netizens, used to seeing the enemy portrayed as being one-dimensionally evil in textbooks and the media, have branded the movie a 'betrayal of China by covering up the Japanese's savage behaviour'.

Mr Lu, who even received a death threat, said he was 'surprised to see the strong nationalistic reaction from young Chinese' during his recent 15-city tour to promote the movie.

Still, the drama has enjoyed a huge following, drawing well over 160 million viewers since it opened on April 22 and winning praise from some critics for being objective.

It earned US$10.3 million (S$15 million), more than two-thirds of its production budget, within five days of its debut.

City of Life and Death is backed by state-run China Film Group, which promoted the film so aggressively that analysts have suggested the authorities are using the film to reshape Chinese citizens' view of Japan into a more forgiving one.

Little wonder then that it took Chinese officials five months to approve the shooting of City, and another five months to examine the finished product.

Movers and Shaker(s)...

Friday, May 15, 2009

War over within '48 hours'

COLOMBO - THE Sri Lankan government vowed on Friday to finish off the Tamil Tigers within 48 hours, defying international calls for a truce and warnings of a 'humanitarian catastrophe' inside the rebel-held zone.

The signal that a final offensive against the beleaguered separatist guerrillas was imminent came as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff was rushing to the island in a fresh effort to stop the carnage.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the only neutral organisation working in the conflict area, said its staff were 'witnessing an unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe.'

Former colonial power Britain said it wanted an investigation into alleged war crimes, while the United States announced it was blocking a US$2 billion (S$3 billion) International Monetary Fund bailout package for Sri Lanka.

Tens of thousands of Tamil civilians are believed to be trapped inside a tiny patch of jungle still held by the rebels. Hundreds have been reported killed in indiscriminate shelling over the past week.

But Sri Lankan government spokesman Anusha Palpita said the war would be over by Sunday morning.

'The president (Mahinda Rajapakse) assured that within the next 48 hours the thousands of Tamil civilians will be freed from the clutches of the Tamil Tigers,' Mr Palpita said.

'All territory will be freed from Tiger control.' Military officials said the fighting with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) hold-outs was continuing to rage.

'Security forces are continuing the humanitarian operations to free the Tamil civilians held hostage by the Tigers,' an official said.

The government maintains that the Tigers are using civilians as human shields and they need to be rescued. Any civilian deaths inside Tiger territory have been blamed on the rebels. -- AFP

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Date: from 23 Jul 09
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Tickets: UP - $58. Special Price: $27 by Edusave
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Email by 18 May 09 to sign up

Final hours of open access!

Due to the confidential content on this blog, privacy mode will be enabled with effect 14 May at 2200. You can sign in with the same account you use to access DISCUSSION. An invitation has been sent to your google account email. Otherwise contact me at for permission.

Sec 3 History SA1

Dear Sec 3s,

Here are the suggested answers for the History paper:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cambodia praised for sand ban

PHNOM PENH - AN ENVIRONMENTAL watchdog group praised Cambodia on Wednesday for banning the export of sand, the dredging of which the group says degrades coastlines and depletes fish populations. The London-based group Global Witness said it was pleased that Prime Minister Hun Sen's government responded to its concerns over the potentially devastating impacts of sand dredging. Hun Sen announced a partial ban on the practice and a total ban on exports on May 8. Most sand exports have gone to Singapore, which has an ambitious land reclamation project, the group said. Indonesia had been Singapore's main supplier of sand until January 2007, when the government in Jakarta banned its export. The group - which has been critical of the country's attitude toward the exploitation of natural resources - said the ban was a positive first step. In a report issued three months ago, Global Witness said that 'a huge sand dredging operation' began in Cambodia's Koh Kong province last year. The group estimated the activity to be worth at least US$8.6 million per year in Cambodia. -- AP

Rethinking MNC strategy

AMERICAN multinational companies with regional headquarters in Singapore are not about to pack up and leave overnight despite last week's news of the sweeping corporate tax changes that President Barack Obama has proposed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ex-Nazi guard deported

CLEVELAND - DEPORTED by the United States, retired autoworker John Demjanjuk was carried in a wheelchair onto a jet that departed on Monday evening for Germany, which wants to try him as an accessory to the murders of Jews and others at a Nazi death camp in World War II.

Demjanjuk, 89, arrived in an ambulance at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport after spending several hours with US immigration officials at a downtown federal building. Airport commissioner Khalid Bahhur confirmed Demjanjuk was on the plane and that its destination is Germany.

The deportation came four days after the US Supreme Court refused to consider Demjanjuk's request to block deportation and about 3 1/2 years after he was last ordered deported.

The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk (pronounced dem-YAHN'-yuk) is wanted on a Munich arrest warrant that accuses him of 29,000 counts of accessory to murder as a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. The legal case spans three decades.

A German Justice Ministry spokesman, Mr Ulrich Staudigl, said the retired autoworker was expected to be in Germany by Tuesday.

Demjanjuk denies Germany's accusations, saying he was held by the Germans as a Soviet prisoner of war and was never a camp guard. Demjanjuk's family fought deportation, arguing he is in poor health and might not survive the trans-Atlantic journey.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, a founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, said Demjanjuk deserves to be punished and that this will probably be the last trial of someone accused of Nazi war crimes.

'His work at the Sobibor death camp was to push men, women and children into the gas chamber,' Rabbi Hier said in a statement. 'He had no mercy, no pity and no remorse for the families whose lives he was destroying.' The center was established to locate and help bring to justice Nazi war criminals. -- AP

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Aung San Suu Kyi 'not in good health'

Yangon - Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is 'not in good health' as she cannot eat, and her doctor is being detained by the military authorities, her party spokesman said yesterday.

The 63-year-old Nobel laureate, whose detention comes up for renewal late this month, has low blood pressure, is dehydrated and has been placed on an intravenous drip by her doctor's assistant.

Official sources said on Thursday that Ms Suu Kyi's doctor, Mr Tin Myo Win, had been denied permission to enter her lakeside prison home. Mr Nyan Win said he did not know the reason for this action.

The detention adds more mystery to the alleged visit last Sunday by an American who swam across a lake to her home.

State media said the man, identified as Mr John William Yeattaw, 53, spent two days at the house before security forces plucked him from the water as he left at dawn on Wednesday.

He was reportedly arrested with a large empty water bottle - which might have been used as a flotation device.

The man's motive remained unclear. Official sources have said he is a Vietnam war veteran, while Ms Suu Kyi's lawyer Kyi Win said he is an 'adventurous' American acting of his own accord.

Ms Suu Kyi, who has been isolated and under house arrest for most of the past 19 years, is allowed virtually no visitors, aside from her doctor.

The authorities have not said if they intend to extend her detention. But Western diplomats say she is unlikely to be released.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Some have requested to review this slide for revision. So here you go!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Economy's openness 'to ensure quicker rebound'

Some of you have asked what a small and open economy means. Here's what it means:

Straits Times 7 May 09

SINGAPORE'S economy has become even more open over the past 10 years, making it the most vulnerable among the Asian economies in a global slowdown.

But this openness will mean a quicker rebound when a global recovery kicks in.

Despite diversifying its economy, Singapore's reliance on exports has in fact increased, rising from 70 per cent of total demand in 1998 to 76 per cent last year.

This openness and trade dependency makes the economy 'more susceptible to global headwinds'.

Countries accounting for 57 per cent of Singapore's exports are projected to be in a full-year recession this year, compared with 50 per cent in 1998 and just 5 per cent in 2001 - Singapore's most recent periods of recession.

The same openness of the Singapore economy should also enable us to pick up more strongly than other countries when the global recovery eventually gets under way.

'The bottoming of the economy will happen later rather than sooner, next year rather than this year.'

He does not expect a quick return to business as usual, especially for smaller export-oriented economies which would face problems of excess capacity and deflation.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Singapore economy may shrink 10%

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has slashed its forecast for Singapore's growth this year, saying the economy could decline 10 per cent to end up as the worst performer in Asia.

The Republic is also the only country in the region that the IMF expects to keep shrinking next year, albeit marginally, while most other economies will see flat or weak growth.

The IMF also sharply downgraded its growth predictions for most other economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Singapore saw the biggest downward revision.

'If you look around the region, what you see is the countries that have been hit hardest in the crisis have two characteristics: They are the most open economies and they are the ones that specialise in manufacturing,' said the IMF.

'Singapore fits well under both categories, and that's why we expect that the decline in output this year is really going to be quite sizeable.'

Singapore's economy shrank by 16.4 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of last year and by a further 19.7 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

These record contractions prompted the Government to downgrade its own forecasts last month, and it is now projecting a decline of 6 per cent to 9 per cent for the full year.

While Asian economies may see some 'small bounce off the bottom', there are still two 'big things weighing down Asia' - the continuing recessions in the United States and Europe, as well as the looming increases in unemployment in Asian countries.

A 'recovery' in terms of sustained quarterly growth will arrive in Singapore and Asia only next year and even then, they will not return to pre-crisis levels.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sec 3 Social Studies SA1

Dear Sec 3s,

Some feedback about your answers:
  • Write clear inferences (don't just paraphrase/interpret)!
  • Don't forget the point of comparison for para 2!
  • SEQs have no LINKS! eg. how does XYZ principle build confidence? how does XYZ measures address health care costs?
Here's the suggested answer for your Social Studies SA1.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Prisoner's message in a bottle

Pieces of a bottle and a letter written by a prisoner being displayed in Auschwitz, Poland, on Tuesday. Workers doing refurbishment work found the bottle containing the letter hidden in the wall of a building near the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. The letter bore the names of seven prisoners. The site had been used as a Nazi warehouse during World War II.

Sec 3 elearn Report

Dear Sec 3s,

You can check your elearn project scores under SCORES (obvious?) in middle bar links. If you haven't got a grade, chances are your project got lost in transit. You can re-send your links to The elearn grades will be topped up to CA1.2.

Meanwhile, after reading so many of your ppt slides, why not take a look at this ppt?

Perhaps other than principles of governance, we might learn a thing or two about creating neat ppts.