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The ‘stamp on stamp’ design of one of the stamps featuring the Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation 10 cents stamp of ‘Malaya Selangor’.

Pos Malaysia issued some lovely stamps to mark The Diamond Jubilee of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. My mother who is a great fan of a few series of the old Commonwealth stamps read an article on the launching from ‘The Star’  the day before. She instantly ‘fall in love’ with the ‘stamp on stamp’ design featuring the 10 cents stamp ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation’ Malay Selangor issue. After all, the old Commonwealth issues of the Queen Elizabeth II coronation series is one of my mother’s favourite as well as the colourful Machin stamp series that look so wonderful in her album pages.

The second design of the stamps featuring Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Knowing that the stamps would be popular among stamp collectors from all over the world as well as fans of the Royal Couple and the British Monarch, we left for the post office very early to avoid the long queue. We reached there at 8:30 am but unfortunately, as the door of the elevator slid open, we had a great shock to see that the queue had already stretched past the elevator all the way from the philatelic counter. Those who came just minutes after we did had to stand in the sun as the queue grew longer and longer.

The queue stretched all the way from the philatelic counter…

…to the entrance of the gallery…

…through the corridor…

…past the elevator (where I stood reading ‘The Pickwick Papers’)…

…and into the sun!

I was thankful that I remembered to bring a novel with me, which I read while waiting for our turn to come. My mom on the other hand, made friends with a few wonderful and lively Chinese ladies and a Malay guy slightly older than me behind us and they all quickly launched into a conversation which helps the time to fly by. After about half an hour queueing, Ali noticed that my little sister Anisah was weeping and he asked his big sister if she’s alright. Anisah told him that she felt dizzy and as my mom was taking her to find a seat, she fainted. She soon recovered and she waited for us in the gallery.

Ahmad Ali met his friend, Abang Moza.

When we finally reached the counter almost four hours later, they told us that they had sold out all of their stamp sheets. Imagine my mother’s dismay after we had been standing in the queue for hours just to find out that they were out stamp sheets! So my mother bought lots of the miniature sheets and stamps. However, the nice Pos Malaysia staff urged my mother to buy the folder and my mom, feeling that she’ll have to buy one of everything after such a ridiculously long queue, accepted the advise. Just less than half an hour later, they put up posters saying that they had sold out of folders and my mom was glad that she had one to keep. My mother even bought first day covers which she would not buy during other stamp launch! After another long queue to stamp the first day covers and the folder, we found out that they had received a new stock of stamp sheets which we managed to buy some.

We managed to get some of the stamp sheets at last!

The folders were sold out.

We had a light lunch and left the post office at 3pm, somewhat hungry and tired but contented nevertheless. The stamps, miniature sheets, first day covers and folders are very beautiful. They proved to be a hit and sold like hotcakes. Even fans of the royal couple who are not stamp collectors do not mind to join the long queue. We even met a lady who queued for almost three at another post office when she was told that they had ran out of stock, and rushed to Daya Bumi and had to join another long queue for the memorabilia.

The place was still crowded by 1pm as people rushed in from all parts of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor after some of the post offices ran out of stock.

I hope Pos Malaysia would issue more lovely stamps in the future as it is such a delight to flip through your album and look at the rows of beautiful Malaysian stamps.

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Bersih 3.0 was promised to be a peaceful rally but things turned ugly when the protesters went violent, broke the rules and even acted brutally towards the police. As the dust began to settle, a new question sparked, who is to be blamed?

The protesters blamed the police for the the unrest caused. They claimed that the police violent act of spraying water and shooting tear gas to the crowd sparked anger among them thus caused them to retaliate with force. But according to several videos posted on the internet, the police only shot after the protesters broke the barricades. Isn’t it what the police should have done, control the crowd and keep them from getting out of control? Surely the PDRM (Royal Malaysian Police) do not want to be blame if things got really out of control like what happened in London between 6th to 10th August 2011.

Let us look back at what the DAP vice-chairman Senator Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim had mentioned in a news conference before the rally took place, by not using the locations offered by the police, the leaders of the rally were “encouraging the people to break the law” – The Star Online (DAP vice-chairman against rally (Update)) 26th April 2012.

Or is there any possibility that the violence is actually intended? The leaders of the rally claimed that they condemn the act of the protesters who broke the barriers blocking the road to Dataran Merdeka. But did they mean it? The opposition leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had been caught on video communicating with PKR deputy president, Azmin Ali and another man (who some had claimed to recognise him as a PKR Seremban member)  using hand gestures just before the man pushed the metal gate blocking the road. Does this suggest that the two PKR leaders instigated the crowd to go against the police? Please watch the video below:

Even if (as the both PKR leaders claimed) they didn’t instigated the breach, why couldn’t Anwar, as the leader, use the megaphone to call back his people? Why wasn’t there any such effort made? And why did he left the scene at that critical moment? If he knew the police would act violently, why didn’t he step down and protect his people? Why did he let his supporters down and let them walked into danger by themselves? No wonder Mr. Benji Lim expressed his anger during the PKR press conference yesterday.

 

Had they really wanted to organise a peaceful assembly, why couldn’t they agree with the police and settle for a stadium? In a stadium, it is much easier to control a large crowd and there is a less chances of starting violence within the assembly. With the crowd being led away from public roads and private buildings, tourists would not be scared off and this would not disrupt the sales of the shops around the city area as well; thus causing less unrest and possible damage caused. Why are they insisting on using the Dataran Medeka when the police rejects their request for their own safety? Or do they has hidden plans as been said, debated and discussed around the social media.

As a free citizen of a peaceful, democratic country, I wouldn’t want my country to be ruled by unruly mobs who would in the end cause insecurity as what happened in Egypt, Libya and several more during the Arab Spring.

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There was a fire in Bukit Kecil (Small Hill) in Kuala Terengganu burning down more than 19 hectares of the forest. Bernama said that the fire started at about 2pm yesterday but was extinguished at night when there was a heavy rainfall. However, the forest was reignited earlier this afternoon due to the hot and windy weather.

For rest of the news, read below :

TERENGGANU, 7 Feb (Bernama)– Lebih 19 hektar kawasan hutan di Bukit Kecil di sini musnah dalam kebakaran yang bermula petang semalam, bagaimanapun keadaan kebakaran kini terkawal dengan beberapa kawasan masih mengalami kebakaran kecil.

Penolong Penguasa Bomba Kuala Terengganu Mohd Khairul Anuar berkata Isnin, lebih 100 anggota dan pegawai bomba termasuk pelatih dari Akademi Bomba Wakaf Tapai dan Bomba Sukarela Kuala Nerus Manir bertungkus lumus 24 jam untuk mengawal kebakaran itu.

Katanya kebakaran bermula kira-kira 2 petang semalam dan hujan lebat tengah malam telah membantu memadamkannya, bagaimanapun kebakaran itu merebak semula tengah hari ini akibat keadaan berangin dan cuaca panas.

Setakat pukul 4 petang ini, anggota bomba masih lagi menjalankan operasi pengawalan api dan beberapa kawasan di hutan itu masih mengalami kebakaran kecil.

“Sebaik menerima panggilan kecemasan, kita telah menghantar jentera dan anggota bomba untuk mengawal kebakaran daripada merebak ke kawasan kediaman dan beberapa bangunan milik kerajaan yang terletak berhampiran kawasan kejadian,” katanya kepada Bernama.

Antaranya bangunan Jabatan Pelajaran Negeri Kuala Terengganu, Jabatan Kimia, Radio Televisyen Malaysia Bukit Pak Apil dan Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Chong Hwa Wei Sin.

Mohd Khairul berkata bomba masih menyiasat punca sebenar kejadian kebakaran hutan tersebut.

BERNAMA

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(from SkyandTelescope.com : http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/111588359.html)

Mention “meteors,” and casual skywatchers usually think of the annual Perseid shower on display every August.

But the Geminid meteor shower of mid-December ties or even surpasses the Perseids as the year’s richest and most reliable meteor display. Geminid meteors come from 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid discovered in 1983.

This year the Geminids are predicted to peak on the morning of December 14th around 11h UT, more or less. That’s excellent timing for North America, especially out West. The Moon that night is only a day past first quarter and sets around midnight or 1 a.m. local time, depending on where you live. Even before then, on the evening of the 13th, the moonlight isn’t bright enough to dampen the shower’s visibility too much — and the Geminids, with their radiant near Castor and Pollux, pick up steam as early as 8 or 9 p.m. But the radiant is highest around 2 a.m., so the morning hours are the usually the most productive.

Bundle up as warmly as you possibly can, and lie back in a dark spot with an open sky. You may see as many as two meteors a minute on average if you have a very dark sky and are watching after midnight.

If your sky is not too light-polluted, you might try making a careful meteor count and reporting it to the International Meteor Organization. Such counts by amateurs supply much of what we know about meteor showers’ behavior. For your count to be useful, you’ll need to follow the procedures described on our page or at the IMO’s website.

Don’t forget that the shower lasts more than one night. Counts are especially needed on nights away from the maximum, because fewer people are watching. In any case, enjoy the show!

UPDATE:

I’ve realised that many of you are searching for a good place to watch the meteor shower either in Kuala Lumpur or elsewhere in Malaysia. Just look for a dark area with no light source near you (and preferably away from the city’s light pollution) and you could watch them well. According to my previous experience, the best time would be during the morning hours. Not only the shower is at its peak but the city’s light is not as bright as it is before midnight.

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By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent Kate Kelland, Health And Science Correspondent Thu Mar 4, 2:07 pm ET

LONDON (Reuters) – A giant asteroid smashing into Earth is the only plausible explanation for the extinction of the dinosaurs, a global scientific team said on Thursday, hoping to settle a row that has divided experts for decades.

A panel of 41 scientists from across the world reviewed 20 years’ worth of research to try to confirm the cause of the so-called Cretaceous-Tertiary (KT) extinction, which created a “hellish environment” around 65 million years ago and wiped out more than half of all species on the planet.

Scientific opinion was split over whether the extinction was caused by an asteroid or by volcanic activity in the Deccan Traps in what is now India, where there were a series of super volcanic eruptions that lasted around 1.5 million years.

The new study, conducted by scientists from Europe, the United States, Mexico, Canada and Japan and published in the journal Science, found that a 15-kilometre (9 miles) wide asteroid slamming into Earth at Chicxulub in what is now Mexico was the culprit.

“We now have great confidence that an asteroid was the cause of the KT extinction. This triggered large-scale fires, earthquakes measuring more than 10 on the Richter scale, and continental landslides, which created tsunamis,” said Joanna Morgan of Imperial College London, a co-author of the review.

The asteroid is thought to have hit Earth with a force a billion times more powerful than the atomic bomb at Hiroshima.

Morgan said the “final nail in the coffin for the dinosaurs” came when blasted material flew into the atmosphere, shrouding the planet in darkness, causing a global winter and “killing off many species that couldn’t adapt to this hellish environment.”

Scientists working on the study analyzed the work of paleontologists, geochemists, climate modelers, geophysicists and sedimentologists who have been collecting evidence about the KT extinction over the last 20 years.

Geological records show the event that triggered the dinosaurs’ demise rapidly destroyed marine and land ecosystems, they said, and the asteroid hit “is the only plausible explanation for this.”

Peter Schulte of the University of Erlangen in Germany, a lead author on the study, said fossil records clearly show a mass extinction about 65.5 million years ago — a time now known as the K-Pg boundary.

Despite evidence of active volcanism in India, marine and land ecosystems only showed minor changes in the 500,000 years before the K-Pg boundary, suggesting the extinction did not come earlier and was not prompted by eruptions.

The Deccan volcano theory is also thrown into doubt by models of atmospheric chemistry, the team said, which show the asteroid impact would have released much larger amounts of sulphur, dust and soot in a much shorter time than the volcanic eruptions could have, causing extreme darkening and cooling.

Gareth Collins, another co-author from Imperial College, said the asteroid impact created a “hellish day” that signaled the end of the 160-million-year reign of the dinosaurs, but also turned out to be a great day for mammals.

“The KT extinction was a pivotal moment in Earth’s history, which ultimately paved the way for humans to become the dominant species on Earth,” he wrote in a commentary on the study.

(Collins has created a website at http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/Chicxulub.html which allows readers to see the effects of the asteroid impact.)

(Editing by Myra MacDonald)

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By PAT EATON-ROBB and JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press Writers

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – An explosion blew apart a power plant under construction as workers purged natural gas lines Sunday, killing at least five people and injuring a dozen or more in a blast that shook homes for miles, officials said.

Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano said at a late-afternoon news conference that five people were known dead and at least 12 injured.

Deputy Fire Marshal Al Santostefano told The Associated Press before a news conference Sunday evening that crews were still searching for survivors in the rubble at the Kleen Energy Systems plant in Middletown, about 20 miles south of Hartford.

Santostefano earlier said about 50 people were in the area around 11:17 a.m., when the explosion occurred. The mayor said at the news conference it was difficult to tell how many people were at the plant because multiple contractors were working on it with their own employee lists.

“They’re trying to figure out who was on the job today, and where are they now?” Giuliano said.

The 620-megawatt plant was being built to produce energy primarily using natural gas. Santostefano said workers for the construction company, O&G Industries, were purging the gas lines, a procedure he called a “blow-down,” when the explosion occurred.

Lynn Hawley, 54, of Hartland, Conn., told the AP that her son, Brian Hawley, 36, is a pipefitter at the plant. He called her from his cell phone to say he was being rushed to Middlesex Hospital.

“He really couldn’t say what happened to him,” she said. “He was in a lot of pain, and they got him into surgery as quickly as possible.”

She said he had a broken leg and was expected to survive.

Officials had not released the conditions of the other injured people by late Sunday afternoon, but hospitals reported some seriously injured patients.

The thundering blast shook houses for miles.

“I felt the house shake, I thought a tree fell on the house,” said Middletown resident Steve Clark.

Barrett Robbins-Pianka, who lives about a mile away and has monitored the project for years, said she was running outside and heard what she called “a tremendous boom.”

“I thought it might be some test or something, but it was really loud, a definite explosion,” she said.

Kleen Energy Systems LLC began construction on the power plant in February 2008. It had signed a capacity deal with Connecticut Light and Power for the electricity produced by the plant. Construction was scheduled to be completed by mid-2010.

The company is run by president and former Middletown City Council member William Corvo. A message left at Corvo’s home was not immediately returned.

Calls to Gordon Holk, general manager of Power Plant Management Services, which has a contract to manage the plant, weren’t immediately returned.

Plants powered by natural gas are taking on a much larger role in generating electricity for the U.S. Gas emits about half the greenhouse gases of coal-fired plants and new technology has allowed natural gas companies to begin to unlock gas supplies that could total more than 100 years at current usage levels.

Natural gas is used to make about a fifth of the nation’s electricity.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell was on her way Sunday afternoon to the site after speaking with Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano, and called out a specialized search and rescue team to help firefighters.

The state’s Emergency Operations Center in Hartford also was activated, and the Department of Public Health was called to provide tents at the scene for shelter and medical triage.

Rell said the emergency teams were expected to work through the night and into Monday.

Daniel Horowitz, a spokesman with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, said the agency is mobilizing an investigation team from Colorado and hopes to have the workers on the scene Monday.

Safety board investigators have done extensive work on the issue of gas line purging since an explosion last year at a Slim Jim factory in North Carolina killed four people. They’ve identified other explosions caused by workers who were unsafely venting gas lines inside buildings.

The board voted last week to recommend that national and international code writers strengthen their guidelines to require outdoor venting of gas lines or an approved safety plan to do it indoors.

In February 2009, an explosion at a We Energies coal-fired power plant near Milwaukee burned six workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is still investigating.

In the past few years, an explosion at a Dominion Virginia Power coal-fired plant in Massachusetts killed three workers in November 2007, while one worker and nine others were injured at an American Electric Power plant of the same type in Beverly, Ohio, in January 2007.

___

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Stephanie Reitz in Glastonbury, Conn.; Mark Williams in Columbus, Ohio; Mike Baker in Raleigh, N.C.; and Anne D’Innocenzio in New York.

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