View from my village...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CIMB Starts ‘Green’ Account

PETALING JAYA: CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd expects RM100mil deposits for its newly launched environmental-friendly EcoSave Account this year.

Executive director and chief executive officer Badlisyah Abdul Ghani said the group hoped to collect RM200mil in 2009.

“We think EcoSave will achieve tremendous growth because we are Malaysia’s second most popular banking website with 1.3 million registered Internet users, 50% of them active,” he said at the virtual launch of EcoSave, a Mudharabah (profit-sharing concept) and environment-related savings account yesterday.

Peter England (left) and Badlisyah Abdul Ghani posing for the virtual launch of "EcoSave Account".

EcoSave is a paperless, online account that offers an attractive indicative profit rate of 0.5% per annum from the very first RM1, and enables customers to contribute towards the environment and be rewarded for their efforts.

It was designed to operate with minimum damage to the environment. Account holders will not have passbooks or printed statements and are encouraged to perform their banking transactions online via CIMB Click’s banking portal, automated teller machines, and cash and cheque deposit machines. CIMB will not promote this product through the printing media. In fact, yesterday’s press conference was done online.

CIMB Bank Bhd head of retail banking Peter England said when people did not go to the banks; they did not use petrol and thus helped reduce carbon emission.

In order to reward customers for their efforts, he said EcoSave account holders who did not perform any over-the-counter transactions and maintained a minimum average balance of RM3,000 for the month would receive a cash incentive, or hibah, of RM5 each month.

“In addition, the group pledges to contribute RM2 for every RM1,000 deposit towards environment initiatives and activities. We will work closely with non-governmental organisations on environmental issues through energy-saving and recycling activities,” he said.

England said the group had not experienced a slowdown due to its continued strong loans and deposits growth. However, he said, credit card spending was showing some slowing trend, which he attributed to consumers adjusting their spending or taking a more sensible approach.

Badlisyah said at the moment CIMB was working with the Global Environment Centre because it had a long track record on community projects in Malaysia. “Customers will be updated via our quarterly e-newsletter on the upcoming environmental projects and will also be invited to participate directly.”

To open an EcoSave account, it only required RM20 and this little step would go a long way towards “protecting our future,” he added.

The Star

Aleph's Comment:

This is a good move, since I am supporting the GREEN project. But, what CIMB did was something that Maybank already done, but this time with proper GREEN intention. Unlike to Maybank that only give card and most of transaction can be done via online or machines, CIMB goes further to give rewards and acknowledging the GREEN and environment issues.

But, this is only for those who really use SAVING ACCOUNT and stash most of asset in there, to which I don't "keep" cash much, rather invest it somewhere else, where the MONEY IS MUCH GREENER.

Greetings Eid Mubarak Festive 2008/1429

(Click on the picture to enlarge and read my greetings in full)

Best regards,
H. S. Idrewoods

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Smallville - Season 8 Starts Now!

For cute and charming farm boy fans, he is back now! The last season (season 7) ends with hanging episode, and hopefully (and certainly) this season will give annihilating answers.

Season 7 has been more livable dramas, unlike to previous 6 seasons which are so typical, I am hoping that season 8 will present a new (not whole new, at least) character, plots and more revealing of his capability.

Hopefully, unlike to season 7 which was interrupted with "real-drama", season 8 will have true finale episodes.

Can't wait to watch it tonight!

Smallville Season 8

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Balancing Work and Religion

By Christopher Connell (19 August 2008)

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is widely known for outlawing racial segregation in schools and public places in the United States. But it was also landmark legislation in protecting workers from bias, including discrimination against individuals because of their religious beliefs. Workers of faith who have encountered employment policies that violate the tenets of their religion have found protection in the law.

Christopher Connell is a veteran Washington journalist who writes extensively about public policy issues.

At the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Muslim immigrant cab drivers from Somalia risk their jobs and the public’s wrath by refusing to carry travelers heading home from vacations with duty-free liquor.

At a Starbucks coffee shop in Hillsboro, Oregon, a barista contends she was fired not because of tardiness but because of the Wiccan necklace she wore.

In New Jersey, the oil refiner ConocoPhilips is hauled into court by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for refusing to adjust a Christian pipe fitter’s schedule so he did not have to miss church services on Sunday mornings.

And in Phoenix, Arizona, after a six-year legal battle, a federal jury returns a $250,000 judgment against Alamo Rent-A-Car for firing a Muslim sales representative from Somalia for wearing a head scarf during Ramadan.

With the U.S. population rapidly growing more diverse, more workers are demanding the right to exercise their freedom of religion on the job. By law they have a right to reasonable accommodations to their schedules. They sometimes encounter resistance from coworkers or bosses. But in a growing number of court cases, employees have the law’s enforcer, the EEOC, on their side.

And many companies find that it makes good business sense to make these accommodations.

A Law Based in Equity and Respect

Luke Visconti, partner and cofounder of DiversityInc magazine, believes that religious accommodation “is just a way of dealing with human beings with respect and treating them equitably so that you have a productive and harmonious workplace. You don’t do this out of some sense of political correctness; you do this so that you can increase your productivity and profit margin.”

An additional benefit for corporate America is that it is learning, at the same time, “how to get along with customers who are also Muslim or Jewish or Christian or whatever other religion they are accommodating” in the workforce, said Visconti.

Corporations such as Texas Instruments Inc. have created “serenity rooms” for workers at assembly plants to pray, and some have installed foot-washing stations where Muslim employees can perform the ablutions their faith requires before prayer. Ford Motor Co. and others have encouraged – or in some cases, tolerated – the creation of employee affinity groups with a religious orientation, whose members gather for prayer or conversation.

When IBM tightened security after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a newly hired Muslim woman feared she might lose her job because she was unwilling to have her photograph taken without a veil for an identification badge. But the computer services giant accommodated her by issuing two ID badges, one with only her eyes showing that she wore in public and a second, unveiled picture that only female guards were allowed to see.

Georgette F. Bennett, president and founder of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, said, “They got themselves an extremely loyal employee in the process. That’s not anybody who is going to disappear soon, because she was treated with respect and not made to feel like a second-class citizen.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Initially the EEOC said employers must accommodate employees’ religious practices unless doing so created “serious inconvenience to the conduct of the business.” In 1972 Congress sought to toughen the statute by requiring reasonable accommodations that did not impose an “undue hardship.” But the U.S. Supreme Court weakened the protections in 1977 when it ruled in Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Hardison that anything more than a minimal cost to the employer was an undue hardship. Religious groups including Seventh Day Adventists and Orthodox Jews – both strict Sabbath observers – have lobbied for years to strengthen the law, but without success.

Still, increased numbers of business executives and human resource (HR) managers are adopting the principle that American workers have a right to live by their faith on the job as well as off. It’s a cutting-edge issue in the HR business, according to Eric Peterson, manager of diversity and inclusion initiatives at the 240,000-member Society for Human Resource Management.

“People are not necessarily looking for the freedom to proselytize or the freedom to convert” coworkers, said Peterson, former diversity learning manager for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. “They just want to be able to live and work within the tenets of their religious faith.” That can be a challenge, especially for non-Christians whose religion “asks them to dress, appear, behave in certain ways that are not necessarily encouraged by the workplace,” he said. Oftentimes, “there’s not a whole lot of money you need to throw at this problem. It’s just a matter of opening your mind and saying, ‘OK, how else can we do this besides what we generally default to as [a] very Christian-oriented way of doing it?’”

The law against religious discrimination in the workplace applies to all U.S. businesses with 15 or more employees. The EEOC in July 2008 released a new, 94-page compliance manual with dozens of specific examples on what employers must do to accommodate workers’ religious needs and beliefs.

“It is an area that everybody has been afraid to touch because people are so uncomfortable with the subject of religion. Traditionally we like to think of religion as being left at the office door, but in actuality that can’t be done and isn’t done,” said Bennett.

Challenging Instances of Discrimination

Since the early 1990s when immigration worked to expand cultural and religious diversity in the United States, complaints to the EEOC about religious discrimination have doubled to 2,880 in 2007. Race and sex discrimination cases remain far more common (they account for two-thirds of the EEOC’s case load), but they held steady over the past decade while complaints about religious bias rose from 2.1 percent to 3.5 percent of all charges. After the September 11 attacks, the EEOC placed special emphasis on safeguarding Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, and Sikhs against backlash in the workplace.

In the Alamo Rent-A-Car case, Bilan Nur, a 22-year-old immigrant from Somalia, was fired in December 2001 for refusing to remove the head scarf she wore during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The EEOC sued Alamo on her behalf, and nearly six years later, a jury awarded the Phoenix woman $37,640 in back pay and compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages. “The jury just didn’t believe some of the testimony of the Alamo people” about why Nur was fired, said Sally Shanley, the EEOC supervising trial attorney. Alamo paid an even $250,000 to settle the case. Its current owners declined comment.

The dispute over the veteran pipe fitter, Clarence Thomas, who was ordered to work on Sunday mornings at a ConocoPhillips refinery in Linden, New Jersey, has not yet gone to trial. Thomas said initially he was told he could use vacation time to get those hours off, but then that accommodation also was denied. Bill Graham, a spokesman for the oil company at its headquarters in Houston, said, “We do consider diversity of employees a tremendous asset, and the company prohibits discrimination or harassment of any kind.” He noted that unionized workers such as Thomas have a right to file grievances with their local “and they can also call the ConocoPhillips ethics hotline.”

A dispute between the operators of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport – the world’s 21st busiest – and Muslim cab drivers from Somalia remains unsettled. More than 4,800 travelers were refused service between 2002 and 2007 by drivers who saw or suspected passengers were toting alcohol with their luggage. Initially cabbies who refused to take the passengers were sent to the back of the line, but since May 2007 they have faced a 30-day license suspension for the first offense and a two-year revocation the second time they refuse service.

Muslim cab drivers work at many other U.S. airports, but so far this has emerged as an issue only in the Twin Cities. “Why it hasn’t happened in other airports, I don’t know,” said Patrick Hogan, public affairs director for the Metropolitan Airport Commission. “I think it’s more a matter of the way a portion of the community here interprets the Koran.” The Muslim American Society of Minnesota did not return calls for comments.

Does the EEOC’s increased caseload mean the problem is getting worse?

“It’s hard to answer that,” said Dianna Johnston, assistant legal counsel at EEOC. “There’s been a significant increase in religious diversity in U.S. workplaces over two or three decades. That’s part of it. Also, people are more open about their religion in the workplace and in society in general. That can give rise to some misunderstandings.”

The law does not protect only the world’s major religions. “It encompasses any moral or ethical belief about right or wrong that’s sincerely held,” said the EEOC’s Johnston. It also protects those who have no religious beliefs.

Workers invoke Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in numerous disputes over their hours or whether they can wear a yarmulke or kufi prayer cap. In Detroit, for example, the EEOC is suing HCR Manor Care, a large nursing home chain, for sacking a nurse who wore a kirpan under her clothing. The kirpan, a sheathed, three-inch knife with a dulled blade, is one of the sacred symbols of the Sikh religion.

Many religions encourage believers to proselytize, and some groups say that Title VII gives their followers the right to talk about religion around the office water cooler and to inquire about a coworker’s beliefs. But if that coworker wants them to stop, they must, according to the EEOC’s Jeanne Goldberg, a senior attorney advisor. “The employer has two obligations: to accommodate religious expression to the extent that can be done … and not to allow religious harassment of employees.”

It’s a balancing act, both for employers and the courts.

In Peterson v. Hewlett-Packard Co., the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004 upheld the firing of Richard Peterson, who objected to the pro-diversity posters that HP put up in its Boise, Idaho, office. Peterson, a devout Christian, began displaying around his cubicle Bible verses condemning homosexuality; he acknowledged his messages were hurtful. The appeals court said that HP had a “right to promote diversity and encourage tolerance and good will among its workforce.”

But that same year a federal judge in Denver awarded $146,000 to a former AT&T Broadband worker fired for refusing to sign a company diversity policy that recognized the need to “respect and value the differences among all of us.” The judge said the company should have found a way to accommodate Albert A. Buonanno, who had said that as a Christian he loved all people but did not “value” homosexuality.

Eric Peterson, the diversity manager for the Society for Human Resource Management, said the challenge for HR managers is figuring out how to maintain comity in workplaces where workers may hold starkly contrasting views about religion and lifestyles.

“What organizations need to hear is that it is possible to respect people regardless of their religion or their sexual orientation and to let both groups coexist,” said Peterson. “They don’t have to be best friends. You don’t have to invite your colleague and his partner over to your barbeque on Sunday afternoon after church. But you do need to be able to work with them in a respectful and inclusive manner -- and that goes both ways.”

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ray LaMontagne - Be Here Now

Ray LaMontagne
Be Here Now

Don't let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don't try
Don't let your heart get heavy child
Inside you there's a strength that lies

Don't let your soul get lonely child
It's only time, it will go by
Don't look for love in faces, places
It's in you, that's where you'll find kindness

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

Don't lose your faith in me
And I will try not to lose faith in you
Don't put your trust in walls
'Cause walls will only crush you when they fall

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Need for Living

Do more than exist, live.
Do more than touch, feel.
Do more than look, observe.
Do more than read, absorb.
Do more than hear, listen.
Do more than listen, understand.
Do more than think, ponder.
Do more than talk, say something!

M. Shahirasul Idrewoods
VP, Penang.

Holiday in Penang's Batu Feringghi (August 2008)

My friend, who really wishes to have a holiday!

View from hotel-apartment's balcony facing Straits of Malacca.

Sri Sayang, Hotel Apartment (available in two- and three-rooms)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Season 2)

Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles is back with season 2. Just an update for you guys out there...

The ravage machines back with alot more actions and will human survive? Let's watch the American prophetic of machines enslaving human and time transportation has become available mode.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New TV Series: True Blood (HBO)

I have just noticed that there is a new series on air: TRUE BLOOD and of course with new boys in town. With the tag line, Strange Love.

I can't be really sure whether this is going to be interesting story as much as THE MOONLIGHT that caught many fans who fell crazy for and wanting for more episodes. But, I guess this can be a little quench for those blood thirst out there to follow vampire's life.

If MOONLIGHT only present two new boys, this new series gives you three more!

I have just got access to the first series. Once I watched it, I shall write some comment here!!!!

Season 1 - Series #1 - Strange Love (Aired on 7th Sept 2008)
Two years after vampires have "come out of the coffin", 173-year-old Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) walks into Merlotte's Bar in Bon Temps, Louisiana and changes the life of telepathic barmaid Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) forever. Meanwhile, Sookie's friend Tara (Rutina Wesley) comes to work at Merlotte's while Sookie's tomcatting brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten) finds himself on the wrong side of the law.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Prison Break is Back with Season 4

All Prison Break fans out there should be happy now for the continuation of the scintillating Scofield and his gang adrenaline actions. Watch the back-to-back episode 1 and 2 yesterday, I think that's the best so far episodes I have watched. Now, we have the enemy and we are ready to confront them, unlike previous seasons which were most around same dull place (prison and another prison).

This time, with the evolving technology, x264 - the download process becomes faster as the size compressed to nearly 50% from 350Mb to just 170Mb. Saves the downloading time and space as well.

Can't hardly wait for next week!!!

(Errr.. is there any Prison Break fan out there like to comment anything?)