Ric O'Barry

Richard (Ric) O’Barry (born c. 1939) was first recognized in the 1960s for capturing and training the five dolphins that were used in the well-known TV series Flipper. O’Barry made a radical transition from training dolphins in captivity to assertively combating the captivity industry soon after Kathy, one of the Flipper dolphins, died, committing suicide in his arms, according to O’Barry.

‘Kathy looked me right in the eye,’ he said. ‘Then she took a breath, and never took another one. She sank to the bottom of the tank,’ he recalled, adding that he was quite certain that her death was a suicide.

He explained: ‘Every breath a dolphin takes is a conscious effort, so they can decide not to take the next breath. That’s what I mean by suicide.’

It was just before Earth Day, 1970. The next day, he found himself in jail for trying to free a dolphin.

‘I completely lost it,’ he admitted in a phone interview with The Sunday Times. He went on to set up the Dolphin Project to free captive dolphins and educate people about their plight.

For years, he had been trying to get the media to focus attention on what happened to the dolphins in Taiji, Japan. He managed to do that in 2009, when he worked with film-maker Louie Psihoyos.

The Cove went on to win Best Documentary at the Oscars.

In the documentary on the annual hunt of wild dolphins in Taiji, fishermen in boats bang pipes underwater. Fleeing this sound, the dolphins are corralled into a secluded cove.

The healthy ones are caught to be sold to aquariums but the others are speared, clubbed and stabbed to death, as recorded in the documentary, portions of which were shot secretly.

Mr O’Barry said the dolphin hunts in the Solomon Islands are no different. The residents use stones to create a sound that enables the hunters to drive the dolphins into an inlet.

‘The dolphins are ripped from their natural environment, separated from their families and pod mates, held in nets, transported in trucks, hoisted into cargo planes and flown to distant locations. Is it any wonder that many die in the process?’

Survivors are ‘condemned to a life in a concrete tank, listening to the hum of the filtration system and the screams of the audience’.

While wild dolphins can live for 60 years, in captivity they often die prematurely. Captive ones routinely suffer from ulcers, he said, adding that they frequently go blind and have skin problems.

Many also succumb to stress-related conditions like pneumonia, as well as self-inflicted injuries or those caused by accidents or confrontations with other confined dolphins.

Mr O’Barry, who works with US-based environmental group Earth Island Institute, said he will never give up the fight to free dolphins in captivity.

‘It’s my way of trying to right the wrong I committed in helping to boost the captivity industry through the Flipper series.’

Continue reading Ric O'Barry

Daniel Boone – Beautiful Sunday

Daniel Boone (born Peter Green, 31 July 1942, Birmingham, England) is a British pop musician who became a one-hit wonder in the U.S. with the single “Beautiful Sunday” in 1972.

“Beautiful Sunday” remains the biggest selling single by an international artist on the Japanese Oricon chart (coming in 19th on the all-time singles sales list with almost 2 million copies sold) and it has also become a popular song among fans of Scottish football club Dundee United.

Middle class feels the pinch on wages

Wealth gap widest in 20 years as rich get richer
Simpson Cheung
SCMP May 11, 2011

Hong Kong’s rich got richer over the past five years and even the poor made more. But for people in the middle, it was not so good.

Middle-income earners – shut out of the private housing market by sky-high prices but earning too much to qualify for government assistance – were squeezed even harder, government statistics show.

Their incomes rose the least of the three groups between 2006 and last year, as the wealth gap became the widest in 20 years – and worst in the world, according to an international standard.

While the highest and the lowest earners both had increases of more than a sixth, incomes in the middle rose a little more than half that, the government figures show.

People in the middle are miserable and frustrated, said Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, of the University of Hong Kong’s department of social work and social administration and a member of the government’s Central Policy Unit. “The government always uses GDP per capita to measure average income, but that does not reveal the problem of uneven wealth distribution,” he said.

Yip said the latest figures, obtained by the South China Morning Post, further showed the city was at risk of turning into a so-called M-shaped society, with swelling numbers of rich and poor people and a diminishing middle class.

Average earnings of the bottom 10 per cent of employees rose 15.56 per cent between 2006 and last year, from HK$4,500 to HK$5,200 a month. Even after inflation, there was still a steady annual growth of 2 per cent, except in 2009 amid the global financial downturn.

The top 10 per cent brought home 15.48 per cent more in five years, from HK$57,500 to HK$66,400 a month.

Those in the middle gained just 7.84 per cent in the five years, from HK$10,200 to HK$11,000 a month.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Gini coefficient – which measures income inequality on a scale of 0 to 1, where 0 is perfect equality and 1 is perfect inequality – rose from 0.518 in 1996 to 0.525 in 2001, and stood at 0.533 in 2006, the most recent year for which data is available. The figure showed that wealth disparity in the city was the most serious in the world.

Figures for family incomes, a different measure than for individuals, also show a widening income gap.

The median household income of the top-earning 10 per cent of the population last year was HK$77,000 a month – up HK$7,000 in five years, according to the Census and Statistics Department.

The poorest 10 per cent of families became even poorer, living on HK$3,000 a month, HK$100 less than in 2006. Families in the middleincome bracket brought home HK$500 more a month last year, from HK$15,000 in 2006 to HK$15,500.

The top household incomes averaged 25.7 times the lowest last year – the highest in 20 years.

Yip attributed the “M-shape” problem to the government’s employment policy and accused the city’s biggest employer of taking the lead in outsourcing its jobs to contractors, who paid low wages and pulled down the average employment earnings.

But Nelson Chow Wing-sun, chair professor of the university department and member of the steering committee of the government-business Community Care Fund, said there was a need to consider the statistics for a longer period before concluding Hong Kong was an M-shaped society.

He also said the widening income gap was not “as serious as we imagine”.

Work and Saving

Went to my favourite place yesterday. I chatted to a 30 plus indian cleaner while walking along a quiet corridor. And these were what I learnt from her. She is from our neighbouring country, earning only about $800 / mth. She got to work from 7am to 7pm, a solid 12-hr shift. Just when you think it is hard work. Listen to this, she got to wake up around 3.45am everyday and prepare meals, including her own packed food which she brings daily. She has to reach the checkpoint by 6am so that she can be ferried to her workplace by the company bus. By the time, she ends her day and get back home, it is always close to 9pm. The whole cycle repeats itself in 7 hr time. Sound tiring right? Imagine all that for a meagre $800. I wonder how many of our local are willinging to do it. Of course, converting the salary to her local currency will yield about $2000. The work attitude and the reason to work is a stark contrast to our workers who whine and complain everyday. But compare this to the indian lady, is your life worse off?

Nowadays, anything that can be done manually, so called the blue-collared workers, are cheap labour. You need to have the brains to earn more. Look at the senior citizens who still need to work for a living. They are mostly uneducated. This leads me to another point. Money and savings.

Sometimes, I shudder when I see how our younger generation spend money. Some simply have no sense of the value of what money is. They splurge on food, cosmetics, gadgets, fashion wears and accessories. They own the latest got-to-have. Some young working adults (some not even working yet or working part time) spend on clubbing, ‘pubbing’, drinks, entertainment, car and plus those so called ‘must-haves’ in life. Among them, some are spending on future credits.

Whether you are an average worker or high-income professional, to save for rainy days is important because you don’t know when life is going to hit you hard. Having some savings and money in hand is always good. I always believe that if you work so that you can spend every cents you earn is simply idiotic. Following that argument and logic would mean you have to work till you DIE. Is that what most people want? Being short-sighted in the outlook of life is a killer, inability to prepare for the future is a diasaster. A little preparation for our future is better than no preparation at all. By the way, when old age comes, would you still be in the pink of health to work? Anyone guesses…

Finally, life might not be easy, but it is the lifestyle that you choose to have that make life REALLY hard. We can actually survive on little. Look around you, near and far, and you will see how resilient we can be and how fortunate we actually are.

While walking alone the quiet corridor, and usually those are the moments, when thoughts and ideas flow and reflections take place. Wanted very much to pen them down but the inspirations and motivations are not strong enough whenever I get back home. Motivation….. it is the key.

Source: http://limhc891.wordpress.com/2007/02/20/work-and-saving/

S’poreans tell of 3-day jungle ordeal

May 7, 2011
Women got lost on trek in Malaysian national park
By Jalelah Abu Baker

ATTACKS by leeches, unnerving sounds of wild animals and a food shortage were among the trials suffered by two Singapore women when they got lost during a trek in Malaysia last weekend.

In an exclusive interview with The Straits Times, Ms Neo Yiling, 23, and Ms Wendy Zhao, 25, said they decided to trek 8.5km from the entrance of Taman Negara National Park in Pahang to Lata Berkoh, a tourist spot there, after doing online research.
Continue reading S’poreans tell of 3-day jungle ordeal