opinion

THANKS WITH A BUNCH OF FLOWERS

August 12, 2018

Well, this won't happened every day and needs a special reason indeed. Just this morning, one of my good friends voiced out, "I didn't get a lot of thanks for doing it". ... Honestly, nowadays it's really difficult to get even a simple Thank you ... . "Somebody comes to my place and drinks a lot. I just keep on roaring and flowing and remain happy during my whole life, because I can give and give and share ... even without gratitude!" (Historical fountain saying in Regensburg/Bavaria/South Germany). "Be in the making means be thankful forever!" What a meaningful quotation in German poet's Goethe's drama "Faustus" from 1831 - but, how very far away from today's reality. When did you, my dear reader, say THANK YOU recently? I don't mean it as in a disgracing phrase, no, but such as an honest attitude, to which we are all susceptible. A few days ago another very good friend told me, that we all should be very thankful to all leaders in society, clergy and politics - for their mistakes and mismanagement including arrogance and incompetence. Strong tobacco - but true! "The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed: ... God, I thank you that I am not like that (corrupt?) tax collector over there!" (Luke 18, 11). "What's more transient then gratitude?" asked already the German poet Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) in his drama "Don Carlos". Gratitude or thankfulness in our daily surroundings: many times it's just forgotten, because we treat sacrifices, services and even the smallest relief without saying as only natural and take it as a matter of course. Many of our leaders on earth forgot that they only got their position because of our trust and voting. Thankfulness? For goodness sake, just let's be patient and wait for it. I even couldn't care less if the grumpy taxi driver isn't able to say a simple "thanks" after I paid my fare including a small tip.  Benjamino Gigli (1890-1957), a member of a church choir, who studied singing/chanting in Rome and who performed on most all known stages and in concert halls in Italy and later in North America and the whole world and became a legitimated successor of the great Italian tenor Enrico Caruso expressed this: "After 41 years, when I said Good Bye to my stage performances, I found this: Me, the son of a poor Italian shoemaker, could enjoy all sweet fruits of success and popularity. Kings and presidents became my friends. Millions of people gave me their appreciation and applause. But, I know very well that everything is a gift of God: MY VOICE. I have never forgotten to thank Him for this".  Having a claim on something, jealousy and envy are a real siblings trio, which plans to settle down in the place of the forgotten gratitude to say THANK YOU. Only those who know how to thank are able to praise the Lord. Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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THE BURNING MOTHER EARTH

August 5, 2018

A heat wave is ravaging countries around the world. Although many celebrate sunny days, wildfires, wasted crops and health problems are some of the many disastrous consequences hot weather can have. Are we facing now the global heat wave that's been killing us? This write-up seems to become the continuation of my previous column from last week in this publication. But it looks like much more dangerous: Portugal breaks temperature records as European heat wave sizzles on! That's how one of hundreds headlines goes while browsing the latest news. Eight locations in Portugal have hit their highest-ever temperatures amid a heat wave across Europe. Two people are reported to have died in neighboring Spain of heat-related causes. Portugal's weather agency said Friday that eight places in the center, south and east of the country experienced record-breaking local temperatures the previous day, as the Iberian peninsula bears the brunt of a heat wave across the European continent. Two people in neighboring Spain are reported to have died amid the heat, with climate scientists saying such periods of scorching temperatures in Europe have been made twice as likely by the effects of global warming caused by human activity. The temperature reached 45.2 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) (!) near Abrantes, a town 159 km (99 miles) northeast of Lisbon. Many other European countries are also suffering unusually extended periods of very hot weather. The current heat wave in the Netherlands is the longest-ever recorded, while Sweden has experienced its hottest July in more than 250 years, accompanied by wildfires across the country. Germany - my home country - has also been hit by hot weather, with fires breaking out in the national park of Saxon Switzerland in the eastern state of Saxony on last Thursday evening. The drought is so bad in northern Germany that a kindergarten burned down in the far north after firefighters couldn't get enough water. No one has been killed or injured.      Most of us enjoy sunny days and complain on rainy ones — yet behind the clear skies lies a less pleasant reality. Since June 2018, numerous regions around the world have been facing infernal temperatures, which have caused wildfires, ruined crops and killed hundreds of people. The hottest year ever recorded was 2016, due to a combination of global warming and a strong El Niño episode. Despite 2018 experiencing the opposite climate event, La Niña — which tends to cool temperatures — June has ranked as one of the hottest months on record. A heat wave describes a period of at least five days with a temperature of 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average. Extremely hot individual days can be a one-off, which doesn't always have a link to heat waves or global warming. However, a trend is clear: As a result of climate change, we can expect more extreme and frequent heat waves. That's the opinion of Clare Nullis, media officer World Meteorological Organization.  For a south European person, 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) is nothing special. But that definitely is hot for people in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where the normal temperature in June doesn't exceed 20 degrees. On June 28, Glasgow reached its hottest June day ever, with 31.9 degrees Celsius, and the Irish town of Shannon its highest temperature ever recorded at 32 degrees.  Germans have enjoyed — or suffered — temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius for most of May and June. In the country of Georgia, July 4 made history with 40.5 degrees Celsius.  North America has not escaped the suffocating wave either. Denver and Los Angeles were among several cities in the United States that tied or broke heat records Montreal, in Canada, recorded the highest temperature in 147 years of record-keeping on July 2. The heat wave there killed more than 70 people. Thermometers in Japan, Russia and Algeria, among other places, were also on fire. On July 5, the Ouargla weather station in Algeria’s Sahara Desert reported the highest reliable temperature ever recorded in Africa: 51.3 degrees Celsius. This increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Substances like pollen, which can cause asthma, are also higher in extreme heat, the WHO said. Unusually high temperatures at night disturb restful sleep, preventing the body from recovering from daytime heat.  Vulnerable groups such as young children and the elderly suffer the most, stated Simone Sandholz, associate academic officer at the United Nations University's Institute for Environment and Human Security. Most victims of extreme heat live in densely populated urban areas, where ventilation is scarce, she added. Hot weather coupled with humidity is also a perfect setting for insects to thrive. In England, helpline calls for insect bites almost doubled in early July. And if you've ever felt it was so hot your brain doesn't work, science says you could be right. Hot weather can make your thinking more than 10 percent slower, a new study shows. Farmers and crops are further victims of heat waves and droughts. In the UK, growers of peas and lettuce have struggled to meet demand due to low yields and crop failure this growing season; wheat, broccoli and cauliflower are also on the list of crops affected by the weather. In Germany, farmers have resigned themselves to a much lower grain harvest due to the heat and dryness. While writing this piece, I am sitting in my cool office. But every specialist will tell you: access to air conditioning and cooling systems, though vital in a warmer world, can be part of a vicious cycle. Increasing use of cooling devices, currently powered largely by fossil fuels, would further contribute to climate change — and therefore rising temperatures. Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com. 

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Digital Insecurity

July 29, 2018

The cyber attack on Germany's government network several months ago, tells us nothing new about espionage but a lot about risk in the digital age. And that calls for some rethinking, said already German columnist Matthias von Hein. What is still safe in the digital age? What can even be kept safe? Those questions are a cause for public concern after it was revealed that hackers had successfully breached Germany's well-protected government network — copying, stealing and spying for more than a year. The only thing that is clear at this point is that the digital cat-and-mouse game is heading into the next round.  Just an hour ago, next news are on my desk. Two of Germany's largest public broadcasters, ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, the 2nd National TV broadcaster and  the WDR (the Westdeutscher Rundfunk - West German Radio), have been attacked by a Russian hacking group, according to reports. It remains unclear what the group's intention was or whether any sensitive data was stolen. A Russian hacking group known as "Sandworm" targeted them. Security officials told German weekly Der Spiegel that hackers had managed to compromise the broadcasters' networks already in June. Although the cyber attack was detected relatively quickly, it remains unknown what the group was after or whether any sensitive data was compromised. ZDF confirmed the attack on Friday, adding that only 10 computers on its network were affected. WDR decline to comment for "security reasons." Sandworm is a hacking group believed to be run by Russia's military intelligence service, GRU. According to US federal investigators, the group is suspected of also being behind the attack on the US Democrats' computer servers during the 2016 presidential election. The group first appeared in 2013 and, according to German intelligence, has targeted NATO servers, several western telecom companies and Ukrainian energy suppliers. Earlier this year, the German government admitted that its computer network had been compromised via a piece of malware. The Russian hacking group APT28 is believed to have been behind the attack. Germany's intelligence service (BND) had warned two weeks ago of the potential cyber threats facing several key bodies, including the country's public broadcasters and media companies. The BND also said that the Spiez Laboratory in Switzerland, which specializes in chemical weapons research, was also among Sandworm's targets. Its Swiss lab had been tasked with analyzing the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok that was used to poison former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. A spokesperson for Spiez Laboratory said officials had encountered one phishing attack, sent via a document used in a workshop. However, the institute itself had not been affected. Once again, the prime suspect in the attack is a hacker group with links to Russia’s GRU intelligence agency. Thus far, however, German authorities have found no solid evidence leading to the perpetrators. But the fact that hackers exhibited no interest in economic gain after infiltrating a government network would seem to point away from ordinary cybercriminals.  This was clearly a case of espionage. And that – as long as one is not dealing with corporate espionage – is something conducted at the behest of the state. And it is most certainly the case when such attacks are carried out with a great deal of sophistication and staffing resources over a long period of time.  Digital insecurity - an important topic for each and everyone nowadays. Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or  follow me in Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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Malou gets creative for July 27-fashion show

July 26, 2018

Charlotte, North Carolina--Chicken feathers sourced from Villanueva town in Misamis Oriental, northern Mindanao in the Philippines was used to create a headpiece for male models in a fashion show to be held at the Lemeridien Hotel here on Saturday, July 27. Malou Tabada Cordery designs the headpiece, originally from Villanueva, town and now a sought after avant-garde fashion designer here in Charlotte. Malou was asked to create an outfit by Fashion D’ Lux for their editorial photoshoot titled the “New Male Warrior.” .She then made her own interpretation of a modern male warrior and submitted it to Fashion D’Lux as requested. Fashion D” Lux's fashion show entitled “The Modern Masculinity/ The New Male Warrior” will benefit the “Lily Pad Haven, Inc.” founded by Carla Tweddale, which supports victims of human trafficking. Prior to the show, Malou was asked to submit a picture of her creations. “The next thing I knew the organization set an editorial photoshoot session for their social media news, flyers, and cards.” Malou said. She made two garments for the two male models and worked on it for two hours every night for two weeks. “The material I used are really my comfort zone materials---“recyclable materials. I used burlap, disposable hospital lab gown and painted them gold.” It was easy for her to find a hospital lab gown since she worked at a local hospital. Malou used old used black yarn in creating tassels along with gold party plastic cups and beads to create jewelry. Moreover, the chicken feathers and broken window blinds were used to create a headpiece. The chicken feathers came from her hometown of Villanueva where she was born and raised until she migrated to the Carolinas 25 years ago. “I have those feathers for the last 20 years and I don’t know why I brought those feathers,” Malou said. She recycled the feathers and used them for different projects all of which brought joy to her heart. Malou came from the Tabada and Tadeo families in Villanueva and Tagoloan towns of Misamis Oriental and she got married to Richard Cordery 26 years ago. Two lovely and charming daughters named Genevieve and Alyson bless their union. She has no particular designer that influenced her and she said she loves all up o beautiful dresses that are displayed in stores and malls. Malou is a self-taught designer, reading up on the latest fashion trends to hone her craft. She recalled that fashion designing is not new to her. “As a young girl growing up in the Philippines, I was always cutting paper or shaping banana leaves to create doll dresses. I designed my first dress when I was in college. I joined the Achievers Club in my hometown of Villanueva.” Malou said. The Achievers Club is a group of ladies, mothers, sisters and friends who gather every Saturday morning for an arts and craft class. Right now, Malou is preparing for her new project in Charlotteseen in September and is busy helping online her younger cousin Ericka Paulin on how to win the Miss Cagayan de Oro 2018 pageant.

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Are LED lights making us ill?

July 21, 2018

Over the last decade, much of Europe and the US have changed the way they illuminate city and town streets. Not only there, also in the Philippines. And while checking my monthly electric bill, I followed many councils and local governments  having replaced high-energy sodium bulbs (the warmer, yellow ones) with energy-saving LED bulbs (with a blue light emitting diode, which can feel harsh in comparison).  As well as street lights, most of us are exposed to blue light through smartphones, computers, TVs, and in the home. Only an hour ago, I came across a short BBC-article written by Lucy Jones saying that earlier this year, the World Journal of Biological Psychiatry published a paper by a group of prominent psychiatrists that warned of the potential effects of LED lighting on mental illness. It raised concerns about the influence of blue light on sleep, other circadian-mediated symptoms, use of digital healthcare apps and devices, and the higher sensitivity of teenagers to blue light. Indeed, using my tablet while already in bed during nighttime gave me some problems in getting to sleep.Or does my brain making a fool on me? “My concern about LED lighting followed from a larger, earlier concern about the relationship between light exposure and the occurrence of manic and mixed symptoms in bipolar disorder,” said John Gottlieb, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and an author of the paper. “I had already clearly seen that supplemental light exposure -  in the form of bright light therapy - was extremely helpful to patients with depression. What I was slower to realize was that excess and poorly-timed light exposure could have adverse effects on manic states and the sleep-wake cycle,” he said. And here we are: the paper has implications for the treatment of mental illness. If a person is prescribed a self-monitoring app, and instructed to use their smartphone to document mood changes, for example, and they do this before bed, it could have an adverse effect on their sleep, circadian rhythms and health. “Because they are ubiquitous, smartphones represent the larger public health hazard,” said Gottlieb. “Streetlights, though, are not benign and together with the entire set of nocturnal lighting for entertainment, traffic, reading, etc contribute to the phenomena of light pollution, which we are becoming increasingly sensitised to.” As BBC-Lucy Jones explained in her article: studies of the impact of blue light on healthy adults show it inhibits Melatonin secretion which disrupts sleep and can affect quality of life, physical and mental health and susceptibility to illness. Previous studies of sleep disorders in children and adolescents show a clear and consistent relationship between sleep disorders and frequency of digital device usage. Currently, the British National Sleep Foundation guidelines suggest not using technology 30 minutes before bed and removing technology for the bedroom. I'll try to follow the advise. However, there are currently no specific guidelines for people with an underlying mental illness or sensitivity to circadian disruption. We should give it a try, though I remember several decades ago, when we got the advise banning all electric alarm-clocks, radios and TV from our bedrooms. As LED technology has rapidly spread across the globe, the focus has been on the visual element and the energy-saving element. Now, scientists, health professionals and the LED industry are working to minimize the blue light in LEDs and create customizable lights that won’t harm those suffering from psychiatric disorders. Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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The year climate change hit

July 14, 2018

It has been the year 2017. The devastating effects of climate change are becoming apparent — and the world has begun taking action. But, sad to say,  the frequency of extreme weather events has shown, and -  we are starting to run out of time. I remember my Facebook-friend in Spain emailing me last year about the sweltering heat with 48 Celsius degrees in Seville. Unprecedented heat waves swept across the globe in 2017, leading to droughts, wildfires and even deaths. Australia started the year with temperatures near 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit), the "Lucifer" heat wave brought the mercury above 40 degrees Celsius throughout Southern Europe in July and August and scorching heat hit India's most vulnerable people. Get ready for next summer... . "Crazy" weather has been a hot topic for elevator conversations this year — and yes, extremes are starting to become the new normal - also this year 2018. No continent was spared in 2017 when it came to extreme weather. From droughts to hurricanes, from smog to forest fires, these events killed thousands of people — and have been directly linked to climate change. Yes, extreme weather on the rise in Europe - a headline making me as German national speechless. Southern Europe, Canada and the United States were among the areas worst hit by devastating wildfires. Both in California and Portugal, 2017 has been the deadliest year on record for wildfires. Even icy Greenland wasn't spared. Climate change, along with the dangerous combination of a lack of sustainable forest management and careless — or malicious — human activity, has been to blame. About Greenland later in this write-up. Major storms were also responsible for the year's most catastrophic events. Hurricane Harvey in the US, Irma and Maria in the Caribbean and Katia in the Gulf of Mexico left destruction in their wake. While hurricanes aren't unusual in tropical regions, the frequency and intensity of these most recent storms — fueled by warming oceans — were out of the ordinary. But they may be a sign of things to come, if the world doesn't take action to limit climate change. At the same time, at this worry me a lot as resident in the Philippines, global sea levels reached a new high in 2017, with the polar ice caps melting at an accelerating pace. Warmer ocean temperatures contributed to the breakaway of a 1 trillion ton iceberg from the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica in July, at 5,800 square kilometers (2,200 square miles) one of the largest icebergs ever recorded. Flooding caused the death of hundreds of people in the Philippines, Greece, Germany and Vietnam, to name just a few countries. Meanwhile, drought is increasing the pressure on regions of Africa and Asia, such as Somalia, South Sudan and Pakistan, where armed conflicts are already making daily life a struggle for survival. Often forgotten, the struggles of the world's oceans also increased this year. Despite several initiatives protecting the Great Barrier Reef, coral bleaching has continued at an alarming rate. Ocean acidification, meanwhile, is on track to make the seas uninhabitable for many aquatic creatures, endangering entire ocean ecosystems. Governments across the globe are taking action to address current and upcoming climate threats, and leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron, who took office in May 2017 and pledged to fund climate research, have been a source of hope for many. But I won't go so far calling Emmanuel Macron, Europe's climate hero! But 2017 will also, unfortunately, be remembered for the US withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate accord, along with President Donald Trump's other moves away from the fight against climate change. It's not his only try to shock the whole world as we could experienced during his London-visit just yesterday and the day before. Flooding caused the death of hundreds of people in the Philippines, Greece, Germany and Vietnam, to name just a few countries. Meanwhile, drought is increasing the pressure on regions of Africa and Asia, such as Somalia, South Sudan and Pakistan, where armed conflicts are already making daily life a struggle for survival. And, the Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching even worse than expected. Climate change will bring some surprising effects: Bumpy plane rides, greater mood swings and more volcanic eruptions are just a few of the things we can expect over the decades to come. And yes, even more lightning.     We're already familiar with some of the more evident effects of global warming such as melting glaciers and more extreme weather events. But few people are aware of some of the other, less obvious - and completely surprising - impacts of our changing climate, which could have a serious impact on the way we live.  I experienced it during my last trips. Airplane turbulence will get worse. Unfortunately, we can expect air travel to become even more stressful - thanks to the effects of climate change. A recent study by researchers at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom looks into the relationship between clean-air turbulence and anthropogenic climate change. Using the popular flight corridor between Europe and the United States as an example, they examined various strengths of turbulence and how each will change in the future if carbon dioxide levels were to double. The results showed that severe turbulence is likely to dramatically increase by up to 149 percent as a result of stronger wind shears within the Earth's jet streams. These are narrow, fast-flowing, meandering westerly currents found near the tropopause, which are frequently used by commercial airlines as a means of saving time and fuel. Icebergs will clog up shipping lanes. While icebergs are common in these waters, their number and timing is unusual. Experts say climate change could be to blame. The icebergs begin their journey after breaking off a glacier in Greenland, which is influenced largely by winter weather, especially storms accompanied by strong winds. Rising temperatures also lead to the melting of ice sheets, causing more chunks of ice to break off and float into the open ocean. Lightning will strike more frequently. Heat energy acts as a form of fuel for storm clouds. So as global temperatures continue to rise, we can also expect more active thunderstorms. Although there are a number of downsides to this phenomenon - including a probable increase in wildfires - lightning actually produces a powerful chemical reaction that can be beneficial for Earth's atmosphere. Lightning creates a special form of a greenhouse gas called nitrogen oxide, which indirectly regulates other potentially harmful greenhouse gases, like ozone and methane.  In places like Iceland, volcanoes and glaciers have coexisted for thousands of years. However, as glaciers melt due to rising temperatures, the pressure on the Earth's mantel decreases, which in turn increases magma amounts while reducing stress on a volcano's magma chambers. This leads to higher volcanic activity, along with the travel chaos that often follows. There is a historic precedent to this prediction: 12,000 years ago, Iceland was covered by a glacier as thick as 2 kilometers. When that glacier abruptly melted due to a warming trend, a huge surge in volcanic activity followed. Even our mood isn't immune from climate change. Researchers in social psychology have long highlighted the link between warmer climates and higher levels of impulsive behavior and even violence. This has been shown in regions closer to the equator - if global temperatures continue to rise as expected, we could also begin to see behavioral changes in areas further north.  In addition to having to contend with warmer weather, there is also evidence that climate change will further fuel global conflict by adding stress on natural resources like food and water. We can expect our oceans to gradually become murkier as the effects of climate change become more apparent over time. While climate change is often associated with higher temperatures and drought, it is also expected to increase annual rainfall in some areas of the world. This will create faster-flowing rivers, which in turn churns up more silt and debris before this water meets the ocean.  This phenomenon has already been observed along the coast of Norway, where the ocean water has become increasingly darker due to an increase in precipitation and melting snow. Talking about our health: Allergies will worsen. As if getting angrier wasn't enough: If you're one of the many people who suffer from springtime allergies in Euope, you should probably start stockpiling your medication. Warmer temperatures also mean longer and earlier blooming seasons for allergy-triggering plants like dandelions and ragweed. Pollen counts are likely to double over the next three decades in the United States - and "sneezing season" will also kick off in the future as soon as the first week of April.  Believe it or not, deserts are actually teeming with life - also in the form of bacterial colonies. These colonies grow so large, in fact, that they form strong layers known as "biocrusts" that prevent soil erosion.  But different kinds of bacteria thrive in different temperature ranges. So as the climate continues to change quickly, these bacteria could find it difficult to adapt. If desert soil could becomes more prone to erosion, it would not be fertile enough to support plants and feed animals.  Ants play a more important role in the planet's ecosystem than you may realize. In spite of their status as a pest, ants helps plants by controlling other insects, circulating vital nutrients and turning over the soil, among other things.  But ants appear to be ill-equipped to handle the rising tempertatures caused by climate change. A study carried out at Harvard Forest in Massachusetts revealed a susceptibility of ants to even slight temperature increases, with the most important seed-dispersing species essentially shutting down and retreating to their underground nests until conditions improved. Think about it, if ants are around you... . Latest news on my desk: Authorities warned shore-side residents of Innaarsuit Island in Greenland they were at risk of being flooded, after a 100-meter (300 feet) high iceberg was spotted drifting off the coast on last Thursday (July 12, 2018!). The police are on high alert and have moved a search-and-rescue helicopter closer to the remote village, which has about 170 inhabitants. Climate change and its results. Meanwhile, all of us become victims of it. Email:doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com .

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