Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Actress Elizabeth Peña's Death Caused By Alcohol Abuse

The La Bamba actress died from cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol.

By Shawn Dwyer

Peña, 55, died on Oct. 14 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. As reported by People magazine, her death certificate said that she had "cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol, as well as cardiopulmonary arrest, cardiogenic shock and acute gastrointestinal bleeding," according to the Los Angeles County Coroner.

At the time of Peña's death, her manager, Gina Rugolo, said that the New Jersey-born actress died of natural causes following a brief illness. But the coroner's report painted a much grimmer picture of the actress, whose struggles with alcohol were not well known.

"My family is heartbroken," said her nephew Mario-Francisco Robles in a written tribute to his aunt in the Latino Review the day after her death. "There's now a void that will never be filled. All we can do now is remember your sharp sense of humor, your endless hunger for life, and your never ending pursuit of happiness."

Peña first rose to prominence in Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), before achieving stardom as the first girlfriend of Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips) in La Bamba (1987). She went on to starring roles in notable films like Jacob's Ladder (1990), Lone Star (1996), and Rush Hour (1998).

She is survived by her husband, Hans Rolla, and two children.

Alcohol and Energy Drinks A Dangerous Combo, Study Says

Researchers have published a study that shows college students combining caffeinated drinks with booze don’t realize how intoxicated they really are.
Photo via Shutterstock

In a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan have concluded that mixing alcohol and energy drinks poses a serious public health risk, especially among college students. "We found that college students tended to drink more heavily, become more intoxicated, and have more negative drinking consequences on days they used both energy drinks and alcohol, compared to days they only used alcohol," said Megan Patrick, a research assistant professor and co-author of the study.

According to the study, students who either drank alcohol and energy drinks on the same day or who combined the two at the same time wound up spending more time drinking – thus consuming more alcohol – than they would have without the caffeinated drinks. The result of spending more hours drinking raised users' blood alcohol levels to higher peaks. But because of the stimulant effects of the energy drinks, the users reported that they felt less drunk than they actually were. "This can have serious potential health impacts, for example if people don't realize how intoxicated they actually are and decide to drive home," Patrick said.

But a similar study conducted by the Department of Community Health at the Boston University School of Public Health found that it wasn’t necessarily the combination of alcohol and caffeine that posed a risk, but the profile of the drinkers themselves that led to negative consequences. "It appears that the consumption of caffeinated alcoholic beverages has a direct effect on increasing risk by masking intoxication and making it easier for youth to consume more alcohol,” said Dr. Michael Siegel, one of the authors of the Boston University’s study. “It also appears that consumption of alcohol with caffeine may itself be a marker for youth who engage in riskier behavior.”

Malaysia-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Shows Encouraging Results

From Ahmad Erwan Othman

HANOI, Oct 28 (Bernama) -- Malaysia-Vietnam bilateral trade this year is expected to garner over US$10 billion (RM33.8 million) just last year's, Malaysian Ambassador to Vietnam Datuk Azmil Mohd Zabidi said.

He said the trade ties should be further enhanced so as to benefit from close relations between Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi.

Although the trade value seemed to be small, but it is an encouraging figure as Vietnam is still at the early stages of development, he told Bernama after attending a dinner with the Malaysian contingent to the Asean Skills Competition here Monday.

Azmil said the bilateral ties had opened doors in the areas of trade and investment for both countries and it was expected to grow rapidly in future.

He said Malaysia's investment in Vietnam reached US$20 billion (RM65.5 billion) over the past 20 years and currently, more than 400 Malaysian companies Malaysia were businesses with Vietnam, mostly in real estate projects.

Malaysian companies seeking foreign labour should turn to Vietnam as it is equipping its youths with skills for the plantation and manufacturing sectors before sending them to work abroad, he said, adding that currently, about 20,000 Vietnamese workers were working in Malaysia.

He said with a population of about 90 million, Vietnam provided a significant opportunity in real estate development and Malaysian products.

"In fact, Malaysian companies are involved in about 450 projects worth US$11 billion (RM36 billion) either wholly owned or on joint-venture basis," he said.

He said currently, about 1,500 Malaysian entrepreneurs were registered with the Malaysian Embassy in Vietnam, 700 of them were doing business in Ho Chi Minh City while the rest in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

Azmil said apart from enhancing trade and investment between both countries, the embassy was also ironing out constraints faced by Malaysian companies operating in Vietnam.

Deputy Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Abdul Muttalib was present.


Could MAS See The Return Of Its Glory Days?

A Commentary By Dr Syed Raisudin Syed Abdullah

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flies thousands of passengers daily with many opting for the airline to enjoy the typical "Malaysian hospitality".

The airline has won many accolades, especially for its in-flight services, thus it is not surprising that it was the number one choice for local and foreign travelers for years.

Having said that, there is another side of the story.

Over the last few years the airline has been struggling to stay afloat as it suffered hefty losses and to add to its woes two tragedies involving its planes pushed the once high flying airline to the edge.

The national flag carrier posted record losses of RM2.5 billion in 2011 and the losses continued in 2012 and 2013 with analysts expecting the company to post operational losses up to RM2 billion this year.

MAS image too took a beating in 2014 with the loss of flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with the jetliner yet to be recovered till today and the tragic MH17 flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down in Ukraine on July 17.


MAS dark chapter goes back to the days when it was unsuccessfully privatised in the 1990s and subsequently taken back by the government.

The woes were compounded further by the unprecedented developments in the aviation industry in the 1990s. With the rise of low cost carriers in Indonesia, Singapore and even Malaysia, there was no longer a level playing field for the national flag carrier. The low cost carriers grabbed a big chunk of the passenger market that once solely belonged to the airline.

The airline's dilemma seems never ending despite of the many attempts to benchmark its position against many of the reputed airlines of the world.

The headwinds were clearly against MAS as intense global competition and spiraling fuel cost reduced revenues and profit margins.

One should not forget that accumulated gains of the global airline industry over three decades (from 1970 to 2000) were wiped out within 10 years (2000 to 2010) due to the heavy losses suffered by the airlines.

Competition is stiff and is ever increasing, forcing many of the airlines to restructure their operations to ensure their survival.

Many of the renowned airlines, Cathay Pacific, SIA, and Japan Airlines (JAL) have undergone restructuring yet the outcome remain dismal.


The airline industry has yet to see double digit growth, whatever achieved is no more than rudimentary growth. Studies indicate 50 to 70 per cent of the passenger load factor is driven by cheap tickets.

Therefore, the plane may fly with full passenger load but the earnings are small. While the price war is to optimise the passenger load factor and returns, the profits are paltry.

The low cost carriers seem to have changed the rules of the game, this is the reality in the airline industry now. This is particularly so in the domestic sector, with low cost carriers having the monopoly of the passenger market wherever they operate.

The early part of the 21 century also witnessed many calamities and events that affected air travel. The 9/11, 2001 incident, the SARS, MEIRS, and now the EBOLA epidemic, the United States' push in Iraq and Libya, and the recent attack in Gaza by Israel unleashed negative implications directly or indirectly on the airline industry.

And for MAS, the two unfortunate tragedies involving its aircraft is probably the straw that broke the camel's back.


No matter what, MAS deserves praise because in spite of the adversity it had to face and the brickbats it received, it remained confident of turning around. The testament to this is the move by its management and its owner, Khazanah Nasional, to come up with a turnaround plan for the airline.

The turnaround plan is seen as a bitter pill to swallow, especially for its employees, but it promises that the "Malaysia Airlines" brand will remain flying proudly in the sky. The plan provides some assurance on the airline's survival and its ability to compete and make the airline's presence felt in the aviation world.

The turnaround plan should also be viewed from its practicality viewpoint. The RM6 billion allocation is reasonable in restructuring the airline and reflects the strong political will behind the efforts to rejuvenate MAS.

The move to trim the airline's workforce from 20,000 to 14,000 is seen appropriate as the rejuvenated airline needs a balanced workforce capacity and not over capacity.

This will help achieve a balanced human resource capital. All these are the steps in the right direction. MAS has to be helped and has to be given a morale boost so that the airline will continue to be a significant player in the nation's aviation sector.


MAS has to be given a chance to come up with a new lease of life, with unparalleled credibility and integrity. In line with the government's plan to strengthen MAS, it is proposed that the public should take on the role of observers and adjudicators in providing constructive and fair criticism on the airline.

Yet the fact remains the airline industry is full of challenges and pitfalls. The industry is vulnerable to global developments. Yet, the weaknesses within the organization has to be viewed seriously.

At the same time the airline must set its priorities in line with its needs and the priorities should evolve with time. The priorities should be consistent with good management and best practices adopted by the reputable airlines of the world.

MAS must also ensure that there are mechanisms to monitor all its businesses so that everything is consistent and purposeful with its existence.

Finally, the turnaround plan will enable MAS to come up with compelling strategies and steps to take in improving its fortunes. The turn around plan provides determination for the national flag carrier in operating effectively and competitively with the destinations in Asia being its priority.

This turnaround plan promises a focused vision for MAS in flying high as hoped by all Malaysians.

*Dr Syed Raisudin Syed Abdullah, has a PhD in International Business Management and is Organisational Development Consultant.

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